Officials at the University of Southern California (USC) have acknowledged film students’ request to remove director Bryan Singer’s name from a media center named in his honor.
Pupils at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts launched a petition on Change.org on Monday (06Nov17), arguing the X-Men moviemaker didn’t deserve to be celebrated by having his name adorn the Division of Cinema and Media Studies at his alma mater.
“It is completely unacceptable that this prestigious department within our school still carries the name of Bryan Singer, a man accused multiple times of sexual harassment, assault, and pedophilia,” campaigners write.
“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. It sets a precedent of lenience for sexual criminals and further undermines the visibility and respect that victims of harassment and assault deserve.”
The activists go on to applaud university bosses for last month’s (Oct17) rejection of a $5 million donation from shamed Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who is battling multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, before imploring school executives to take action over the Singer division name change, which they insist is “overdue”.
The petition had already attracted more than 2,400 signatures towards its 2,500 goal by Wednesday afternoon (08Nov17), prompting SCA Dean Elizabeth M. Daley to reach out to students in an email, letting them know their voices were being heard.
“We are aware of the Change.org petition regarding the Bryan Singer Division of Cinema & Media Studies and appreciate the concerns of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff,” she wrote in a statement. “We want to assure everyone that we are taking this matter very seriously and are monitoring the situation.”
A formal decision has yet to be made.
Singer has not commented on the controversy. He has faced four allegations of sexual misconduct over the past two decades, but has never been charged or been found civilly liable.
The first accusations emerged in 1997, when Singer was named in a lawsuit by a 14-year-old who featured in his film Apt Pupil. The plaintiff claimed producers acted inappropriately by making him and a number of other underage boys strip for a shower scene, but his case was subsequently dismissed and no chargers were brought against the filmmaker by Los Angeles County authorities.
Singer, 52, hit headlines again on three separate occasions in 2014, when sex assault lawsuits filed by Michael Egan and an unidentified British actor were filed and then dropped, while police in New York launched an investigation into allegations suggesting he had drugged and sexually assaulted a man from Virginia in a Manhattan hotel room.