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Students from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts have launched a Change.org petition calling for the removal of X-Men director Bryan Singer from the university’s division of cinema and media studies as past accusations of alleged sexual assault by Singer have received renewed attention amid the recent flood of sexual harassment and assault allegations in Hollywood.
In 2014, actor Michael Egan III filed a civil suit against the helmer, claiming Singer drugged him and sexually assaulted him in California and Hawaii when Egan was only 15 years old, with the abuse allegedly continuing until Egan was 17. Singer denied those allegations, and Egan’s lawsuit was dismissed after he made a false claim in court (and was called out by the judge for lying). After suing Singer, Egan pled guilty to unrelated fraud charges and was sentenced to two years in prison. During the filming of his 1998 film Apt Pupil, suits were filed on behalf of underage extras alleging that Singer had required them to strip naked for hours while he shot a shower scene. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office found no evidence of wrongdoing, and the civil cases were dismissed.
After Harvey Weinstein was accused of decades of sexual harassment, actress Evan Rachel Wood called out Singer, tweeting, “Yeah let’s not forget Brian Singer either.” On Friday, Jessica Chastain also shared the same sentiments, tweeting the link to an article about Singer’s past allegations and writing, “Let’s not forget.”
Let us not forget https://t.co/0TNDxl8h1Q
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) November 4, 2017
USC students are working to “catalyze change” with their petition.
“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 students wrote.
They continued: “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. As USC students and alumni, we hold ourselves to a standard of respect, and the SCA administration’s actions are not representative of that standard.”
The students demand USC dean Elizabeth Daley alter the name of the “Bryan Singer Division of Cinema & Media Studies” to “SCA Division of Cinema & Media Studies,” as a way to “promote education, respect and consent.”
“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,” the students wrote.
More than 1,501 people have signed the petition, which currently has a goal of 2,500.
USC’s School of Cinematic Arts previously petitioned for the university to refuse Weinstein’s $5 million endowment to grant scholarships to women directors. The mogul’s donation was eventually rejected.
The latest petition mentions the rejection of Weinstein’s donation: “We applaud USC and SCA for refusing Harvey Weinstein’s donation; however, this division name change is overdue, and it is a gross administrative error that it has been allowed to remain. It is only consistent with our institutional morality to make this change.”
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