Yale opened a dining hall for its students in 1901, called The Commons. It was a common meeting ground for students who lived in many different buildings.

A recent history of The Commons described it like this:

They say Hogwarts’s Great Hall, home to treacle tarts and pumpkin juice, was modeled after it. That’s not true — the honor belongs to the dining hall in the College of Christ Church at Oxford University — but it may as well be. High, cavernous ceilings; lights strung around the interior as if it is never not Christmas; long, dark auburn tables; and portraits of mythical (mostly) men who have had some affiliation with the school. Commons is the wizarding world come alive for a few hours a day; it’s the Harry Potter series of dining spaces — some patrons are diehards, others poo-poo the popularity, but everyone recognizes the cultural importance.

But times change, and money talks. Yale has a large endowment, but all big institutions are always on the lookout for more money.

In 2015, billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, class of 1969, gave Yale University $150 Million. He wanted one thing, and one thing only: the historic, culturally significant Commons must be renamed the Schwarzman Center.

The president of the university agreed to the billionaire’s terms.

At the 50th anniversary dinner of the class of 1969, Schwarzman spoke proudly of his gift, but his classmates did not appreciate his beneficence.

At the class of 1969’s 50th reunion dinner in May, Stephen Schwarzman ’69 — a business mogul who founded The Blackstone Group — rose to the podium. Standing under a tent on Old Campus, Schwarzman explained why he donated $150 million to the University in 2015 to transform Commons dining hall into the Schwarzman Center.

“People who have resources get some unwanted friends, and [University President] Peter [Salovey] came to me with a list of projects Yale wanted to fund,” Schwarzman said, as Salovey stood several feet away from him. “I said, ‘I don’t give a shit about this list.’”

Schwarzman went on to discuss his experience as a lonely first year who often ate alone in Commons. He explained that the new student life hub is personally significant to him because he learned to be independent during his time at Yale.

In an email to the News in July, Blackstone spokesperson Christine Anderson clarified that Schwarzman’s comments at the class reunion dinner were “made in jest and in a lighthearted way….”

Still, according to Class Secretary Kenneth Brown ’69, Schwarzman’s comments rekindled the debate around the construction of the Schwarzman Center.

For one, political science lecturer Jim Sleeper ’69, who was present at the dinner, interrupted the business mogul during his speech and criticized Schwarzman for Blackstone’s alleged role in “dispossess[ing] tens of thousands of people out of their homes.” Later, Sleeper revisited the encounter in a blog post on the class of 1969 webpage.

“There is some stuff that Yale simply should not eat, and as I watched some other diners rolling their eyes and shifting uncomfortably in their seats while Steve went on and on, I decided that someone had to object,” wrote Sleeper, who has criticized Schwarzman and his company for their allegedly unethical business dealings in op-eds published in Salon, Dissent Magazine and Washington Monthly, among others.

Moreover, the business mogul’s claims about his indifference towards Yale’s priorities stood at odds with the University president’s previous explanations about the circumstances surrounding the $150 million gift.

In 2015, the announcement of Schwarzman’s gift for a student life hub drew criticism from faculty members and students alike, who argued that the money could be better spent on other projects on campus. Many, including American studies professor and former chair of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate Matt Jacobson, expressed concern that major University projects seem to be driven by donors, rather than by faculty members and the University’s mission.

University President Peter Salovey explained that he brought a list of projects to the billionaire, and he wanted his name on the Commons because he “loved” it.

Probably he also loves the New York Public Library, where he donated $100 million, and the library agreed to name its iconic main building—the one with the lions in front—the Stephen Schwarzman building.

Jim Sleeper wrote about Schwarzman’s passion to spread his name on significant cultural institutions in Dissent last year in an article called “Plutocracy Comes to Campus.”

A recent article by Tom White in Medium reported that Schwarzman gave £150 million to Oxford to create the Schwarzman Center for the Humanities. White listed the “dirty money” associated with the Blackstone Group:

Schwarzman’s payment — I decline to call it a “donation” or “gift” — represents a significant transfer of wealth from some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world to an already vastly wealthy institution. At a recent open meeting regarding the new centre, senior management were keen to stress that Schwarzman had passed the University’s “rigorous” clearance tests. Precisely what those tests involve wasn’t made clear. Did they take into account UN special rapporteur Leilani Farha’s recent identification of Blackstone, the largest property owner in the world, as the main contributor to the global housing crisis? Or that in 2013, Independent Clinical Services, a NHS care provider owned by Blackstone, was found to have avoided paying millions of pounds in tax? Or that the company has also made significant campaign donations to climate denier politicians like Republican US senator John Barosso, and has made large investments in shale gas drilling? Just last week, amid raging fires in the Amazon, it emerged that Blackstone owns two Brazilian firms that are “significantly responsible” for its rapid deforestation. The University apparently sees no incongruity between these latter facts and its recent commitment to cut its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030…

The grim irony of building a centre for the study of ethics with money amassed through some of the most predatory and socially and ecologically damaging practices of modern capitalism is apparently lost on Oxford’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Louise Richardson. “Do you really think we should turn down the biggest gift in modern times, which will enable hundreds of academics, thousands of students to do cutting-edge work in the humanities?” Richardson asked in response to criticism of Blackstone’s business practices and Schwarzman’s connections to Donald Trump.

Last year the New York Times published an article about the competition among billionaires to buy monuments to themselves.

Here is a nugget about the one institution that took Schwarzman s money and didn’t put his name on their building.

In 2014, the Metropolitan Museum of Art cut the ribbon on a four-block-long plaza named after Mr. Schwarzman’s downstairs neighbor David Koch, who paid $65 million for the privilege. Shortly afterward, the Met’s leadership announced that the museum was eliminating the jobs of up to 100 people in administrative, conservationist and curatorial positions in an effort to address a ballooning $30 million deficit.

“All that money for a bunch of useless fountains,” said Michael M. Thomas, the best-selling author who preceded Mr. Schwarzman both as a student at Yale and as a partner at Lehman Brothers.

According to Mr. Thomas, Mr. Salovey is right to argue that Mr. Schwarzman is one of many people at Yale with a space named in his honor. But that reveals the extent of the problem with modern philanthropy, not its absence, he said.

“That’s why I’m not going to my 60th reunion,” he said. “Yale is Whoresville, U.S.A. You can quote me on that.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Schwarzman gave $25 million to the high school he had attended in Abington, Pa. But plans to rename it after him were scrapped when people in the town nearly had a conniption.