Hollywood has been rocked by more and more scandals in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct directed at Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey and now a group of students are taking matters into their own hands.
University of Southern California student Emily Halaka has started a Change.org petition asking that director Bryan Singer's name be removed from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The petition alleges that Singer has been "accused multiple times of sexual harassment, assault and pedophilia".
"Despite Singer's philanthropic work for SCA, having his name attached to a division of the School of Cinematic Arts gives the impression that we, both as an institution and as members of the entertainment industry, value his financial contributions over the safety, respect and future of students."
In early October it was reported that USC rejected a $5 million donation from Weinstein to grant scholarships to women after a similar Change.org petition demanded the university refuse to accept the money.
"As a woman at USC," the petition's creator Tiana Lowe wrote, "the prospect that my university might sell an indulgence to ease Harvey Weinstein's non-existent guilt saddens me".
That petition only had 599 supporters while Halaka's, at the time of writing, had over 1,700.
Halaka noted in her own description the refusal of Weinstein's money was a step in the right direction, yet demanded more action.
"Sexual harassment and assault are prevalent issues in Hollywood, the entertainment industry, and the American workplace as a whole, and they require action to catalyze change, little by little.
By continuing to associate Mr. Singer's name with our university, USC is openly supporting a man who has been publicly accused of reprehensible sexual misconduct.
Our university should promote education, respect, and consent, as well as prepare its students to be model members of the USC and entertainment communities, and this continued relationship with Mr. Singer publicly negates those values.
BuzzFeed's Adam B. Vary, who published the interview with actor Anthony Rapp in which he publicly alleged sexual misconduct against Kevin Spacey, wrote an in-depth feature on Singer's antics in 2014 after a lawsuit against the director alleged he had sexually assaulted an underage actor in 1999. Singer's lawyer called the case "complete fabrications".
Soon after the initial case a second lawsuit was filed in 2014 and again Singer denied the allegations. The first case was eventually dropped while the second accuser voluntarily dismissed their case against Singer.
USC has responded to Halaka's petition, saying they are taking it very seriously. In a statement issued on Tuesday the University said:
"We are aware of the Change.org petition and appreciate the concerns of our students and alumni. We want to assure them that we are taking this matter very seriously and are monitoring the situation."Suggest a correction