In the wake of the industry’s sexual harassment allegations against the likes of Harvey Weinstein, James Toback and Kevin Spacey, a fire has been re-ignited when it comes to X-Men and The Usual Suspects filmmaker Bryan Singer, who has been accused of sexual misconduct in the past.
Students from the USC School of Cinematic Arts have created a petition at Change.org calling for the removal of Singer’s name from the Division of Cinema and Media Studios. Since posting last night, the petition already counts more than 1,700 names. It is being delivered to Dean Elizabeth Daley at the USC School of Cinematic Arts as well as Akira Lippit, Vice Dean of Students.
USC School of Cinematic Arts issued a statement today: “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.”
Recently, USC’s School of Cinematic Arts petitioned for the university to refuse Harvey Weinstein’s $5 million donation to grant scholarships to women directors. The disgraced producer’s pledge was rejected.
Three years ago, actor Michael Egan III filed a civil suit against Singer, claiming the director sexually assaulted him when he was a teenager in California and Hawaii. Egan claimed the abuse occurred from ages 15 to 17. Singer denied the allegations, and Egan withdrew his lawsuits against the X-Men director and others in August 2014 after he repeatedly contradicted himself in past and present statements regarding the alleged events.
Singer is currently in postproduction on 20th Century Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.
Here is the Change.org petition letter in full:
We, the students of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, are formally requesting that Bryan Singer’s name be removed from our Division of Cinema and Media Studies. 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.
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.
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.
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.
As students of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, we implore Dean Elizabeth Daley and the appropriate administration to change the name of the Bryan Singer Division of Cinema & Media Studies to simply the SCA Division of Cinema & Media Studies. 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.
With all due respect,
The Students of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.