EDITORIAL: U. needs statement on Weinstein money
Rutgers’ acceptance of donation may be controversial
Rutgers’ campuses may be painted purple, but it seems as though the University’s hands are painted red.
If one were to look at the past two weeks of Rutgers events and statements, one would notice the applaud worthy trend of the University in its efforts to support the elimination of sexual assault and the voices of those who have been victims of this horrible crime. University President Robert L. Barchi sent an email to the student population stating that Rutgers would continue to address sexual assault as seriously as it currently does, despite the announcement of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to roll back sexual assault guidelines specified in Title IX.
The Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance's (VPVA) “Turn the Campus Purple Campaign” held a candlelight vigil to show the campus’ support of victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The VPVA also held the “It’s On Us” rally where former Vice President Joe Biden gave an address on sexual violence and assault. And yet, despite all of these actions insinuating that Rutgers and its constituents do not stand for sexual violence and encourage victims speaking up, the University has made its message murky through its recent interactions with the H. Weinstein Family Foundation.
The H. Weinstein Family Foundation gifted the University $100,000 that is intended to go toward the Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies. This is to promote women’s leadership within the media. But the name “Weinstein” carries some disturbing weight. Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer who was head of the Weinstein Company, has come under fire with allegations of sexual harassment. He has even been fired from the Weinstein Company’s board after news of decades of allegations have come forward, putting Weinstein at the fault of more than 30 cases of sexual harassment of female employees and actresses. But despite these horrible claims and the actions that have been taken against him, the University remains firm in its decision to keep the donation. The irony of the University using the money of someone who has been accused of sexually harassing women in media, in order to fund the chair that will target women’s leadership in media, is more than prevalent.
It seems hypocritical for the University to accept this money, even though it will go toward something that will benefit the school. A $100,000 donation also seems minuscule to a Big Ten state school. But even if one were to overlook the acceptance of the donation, perhaps the biggest issue here is the way in which the University decided to go about this acceptance.
The University did not issue a public statement condemning the acts of Weinstein. It also did not explain that perhaps the only reason it kept the donation was a statement of some kind to combat these crimes from ever occurring again.
Rather, the University did not comment on Weinstein until they were reached out to, and even then, the response was short and generalized. Rutgers is quietly accepting money from the foundation of a man who should not even have accumulated these funds had his career been halted when his crimes were first committed. And because of this, despite the good that this money may do, there is an underlying message from the University to its students that perhaps the values it has been so valiantly pushing, are not its true values after all.