In September, the Temple University group Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA) announced their campaign to try to remove the name of Patrick O’Connor, lawyer for Bill Cosby, from one of the university plazas, as well as oust him from his role as chairman of the Board of Trustees. FMLA is affiliated with the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Feminist Campus program.
O’Connor represented Bill Cosby in the 2004 civil case brought by former Temple employee Andrea Constand, who accused Cosby of sexual assault. In the case’s 2005 deposition testimony, Cosby disclosed that he had a supply of the sedative drug Quaaludes that he gave to young women with whom he wanted to have sex. Cosby went on to describe committing non-consensual acts on Constand in the testimony, saying, “I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything. And so I continue and go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.”
Dedicating the new plaza to O’Connor “shows a lack of respect and disregard Temple has for survivors of sexual assault, and we find it counterproductive that this was unveiled during the newly implemented Sexual Assault Prevention Week,” read a statement from FMLA.
The FMLA plans on creating an email campaign which will allow students to send President Richard Englert messages about the ways in which they are impacted by the plaza dedication and O’Connor’s position on the Board. The email initiative is seen as a stepping stone for the larger movements that they plan to carry out on this issue. They are discussing the possibility of putting on events such as university rallies, protests, and social media campaigns. The FMLA believes that these types of events will allow for the information about this topic to become more widely spread around school.
The Public Relations Chair of the FMLA, Kayla Boone, said to the Temple student newspaper, “I think it’s important for us to really amplify the voices of survivors of sexual assault in this instance…We can’t speak over or speak for people. You can’t tell people that their experiences are not real and just made up.”
One in five women and one in sixteen men will be sexually assaulted in college, and 90 percent of survivors will never report the attack. Temple University’s decision to celebrate O’Connor comes as the Department of Education implements a roll-back on Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors on college campuses.
Media Resources: Temple News 9/26/17, 9/26/17; Feminist Majority Foundation 12/7/16,