U. will not return $100k donation from Weinstein Foundation amid sexual assault allegations

The announcement came during VPVA's "Turn the Campus Purple" week

<p>The money from the Weinstein Foundation will go toward the Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies to promote women’s leadership in the media.</p>

The money from the Weinstein Foundation will go toward the Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies to promote women’s leadership in the media.

Rutgers stood firm in its decision not to return the $100,000 gift bestowed to the University by the H. Weinstein Family Foundation in April despite multiple allegations of sexual harassment against the producer.

The donation was given to the University as part of a campaign to raise $3 million for the Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies, said Lisa Hetfield, director of the Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL). 

The chair is a result of the collaboration of IWL, the School of Communication and Information and the Department of Women's and Gender Studies. It is the first of its kind, which addresses the intersection of feminist studies and media culture, she said.

The University first announced that the donation would not be returned to the foundation on Saturday, one day after The New York Times reported that Weinstein had been paying off people who accused him of sexual assault for decades, which ultimately led to his termination from his own production company.

“The allegations of sexual assault and harassment of women by Harvey Weinstein are appalling and indefensible. More work is needed to advance women’s equality and the $100,000 donation by the Harvey Weinstein and the H. Weinstein Family Foundation to help fund the Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies will help those efforts,” said Dory Devlin, director of University News and Media Relations.

Yesterday NJ Advance Media reported that the University of Southern California turned down a $5 million pledge from Weinstein made more than a year ago, while Rutgers reaffirmed their decision to keep the donation.

The announcement came during the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance’s “Turn the Campus Purple” week, an annual campaign that aims to raise awareness for dating and domestic violence and about a week after University President Robert L. Barchi declared Rutgers’ commitment to protecting students from sexual violence, discrimination and harassment after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos decided to roll back Title IX rules and regulations.

"We are committed to equity, fairness and respect for all of our students who may be personally involved in instances of sexual assault or harassment, are exposed to such behavior, or are accused of such behavior," read the letter sent out to the student body by Barchi. "Our commitment will not waver." 

Women who have spoken out against Weinstein include actresses Rosanna Arquette, Katherine Kendall, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, according to Slate. In total there have been at least 25 accusations against the producer of some degree of harassment.

"I do think that all of this calls attention to the need for more women in leadership and media, and far more feminists in leadership across all arenas, and for education about the inequality and how abuse of power around gender inequality happens," Hetfield said.

The money raised for the Gloria Steinem chair will be put toward the endowment of the chair, Hetfield said. Once the chair has an occupant there will be programs to address the underrepresentation of women's leadership and all of the issues around women, culture and media.

“The commitment (from the foundation) was made back in April, and the actual funds transferred in June," Hetfield said. "The money's here (and) already being put to use in the endowment."

There was a total of over 430 gifts contributed to the $3 million campaign, she said.

"We think devoting these funds to advance women's equality is a better use of the dollars than returning the donation to Harvey Weinstein and the H. Weinstein Family Foundation," Devlin said.

Alexandra DeMatos is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies and women's and gender studies. She is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @dematosaa for more.

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