Reject Harvey Weinstein's $5 million foundation for the USC School of Cinematic Arts
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This morning, Ronan Farrow at the New Yorker confirmed what hundreds, if not thousands, of actors, producers, assistants, and media personnel spent decades trying to silence: Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood kingmaker and production pioneer, is not only a serial sexual harasser, but an alleged rapist as well. After the New York Times broke the story last Thursday that Weinstein has been buying his victims’ silence for years, the producer came out with a statement blaming the culture of the 60s and 70s, pledging to commit his time and money to defeating the National Rifle Association, and revealing that a $5 million foundation of his, benefitting women at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, is already in the works. In short, he’s doing what guilty men throughout history have done to avoid taking ownership of their actions: blaming a pervasive culture, deflecting focus, and buying moral absolution.
As a woman at USC, the prospect that my university might sell an indulgence to ease Harvey Weinstein’s non-existent guilt saddens me. The prospect that, given their pattern of atrocious tolerance to violence against women, they almost certainly will disgusts me.
Universities are supposed to be one of the premier moral arbiters and ethical gatekeepers to civil society, but USC has acted as anything but. University officials continue to promulgate the offensive lie that all men have just a little bit of rape culture in them, but all it takes a flashy Ainsley Carry photo-op in the Daily Trojan and some consent classes to prevent men from revealing their inner rapist.
I don’t want a Hecuba statue. I don’t want a consent carnival. I don’t want a Title IX t-shirt. I don’t want a single other pathetic display of virtue signaling while I have to watch the Trojan women walk past wife-beater and murderer OJ Simpson’s jersey in the Coliseum. Or while I watch freshmen girls pass the new dorm named after Simpson’s accomplice, Al Cowlings. Or while President C. L. Max Nikias is celebrated as a meme while refusing to apologize for knowingly hiring Carmen Puliafito after he was charged with sexual harassment at his previous job. Or while the university chose to replace Puliafito with Rohit Varma, another man USC had previously admonished for sexually harassing his female inferiors.
Rather than continue full scale assault on “systems” like the Row or the university’s drinking culture, I’d like USC to finally muster the moral spine to refuse Harvey Weinstein’s blood money in exchange for its soul. We are blessed with the expansive and charitable Trojan family. We don’t need this money. What we need is some damn principles.
I know this is closer to a rant than an argument, but I’m done with respectable institutions readmitting monsters into honorable life. USC tells us to take back the night, and they say that “it’s on us.” That’s easy to say when railing against some vague notion of “rape culture” or a dishonest caricature of Greek life. When confronted with Hollywood royalty and a political ally, that’s a lot harder. Let’s demand that they show us how much they mean it.
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