Temple grad seeks to unseat Cosby as university trustee

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Bill Cosby

Comedian Bill Cosby at Temple University's commencement Thursday, May 12, 2011, in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

A Temple University graduate is trying to step up the pressure on the university to remove Bill Cosby from its board of trustees.

Kerry McCormick, a lawyer and a member of Temple’s Class of 2005, has launched an online petition calling for Cosby’s dismissal. The continued presences of the embattled comedian on its board calls into question the school’s judgment and its commitment to justice for victims of sexual assault, she said.

“I can say that if I was going [back] to school, I would be alarmed about putting myself in a situation where an alleged serial rapist was on the board of trustees, [even] after all this came out,” McCormick said. “I wouldn’t be thrilled about that. And I don’t have children yet, but I wouldn’t be thrilled to send my child to a school that was known for that.”

The online petition has drawn about 700 signatures – almost 10 times as many as last year’s petition to build a statue of Cosby on campus.

McCormick said she thinks it is a particularly important moment for Temple to demonstrate that it understands the gravity of the allegations against Cosby, given that it is one of 55 schools currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education for possibly mishandling student claims of sexual assault.

“With the resurfacing of these allegations, and the new allegations, I think it’s time for Temple to act,” McCormick said. “I think there are a lot of Temple alums, a lot of Temple students, a lot of taxpayers who are unhappy with Temple’s reaction to this.”

Cosby may still have plenty of fans both on and off the Temple campus – he recently earned a standing ovation at a sold-out show in Florida — but his list of institutional supporters is shrinking fast. Since the revival of concern over his sexual history – buttressed by detailed allegations from more than a dozen women – Cosby has seen his work as an entertainer grind almost to a complete halt. NBC cancelled a planned new show; Netflix cancelled a planned broadcast; and a major cable TV station, TV Land, shelved his reruns. Some performances have been postponed indefinitely, and two colleges have cut ties with him.

But so far there are no signs that Temple will soon join the list. A Temple spokesman would only say that the university is “aware” of McCormick’s petition.

Likewise, Cosby has said almost nothing on the subject, but his attorney has called the allegations of sexual abuse “fantastical” and “unsubstantiated,” saying recently that it is “long past time for this media vilification of Mr. Cosby to stop.” Cosby, a Temple trustee since 1982,  was recently approved for another four-year term on the board.

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