Opinion

Temple should condemn Cosby’s town hall tour

It’s time for the university to completely separate itself from Bill Cosby.

On the heels of the mistrial declared in his sexual assault case, Bill Cosby is planning a tour to “educate” the masses.

Cosby has plans to hold town halls across the country to speak to young people about how to avoid sexual assault accusations.

Cosby has a history of being involved with education — he served as a university trustee for 32 years — but this type of twisted lesson plan is an insult to survivors of sexual assault everywhere and to decent people who know how to ask for consent.

“This is bigger than Bill Cosby,” his spokesman Andrew Wyatt said in a TV interview with WBRC Fox 6. “This issue can affect any young person, especially young athletes of today, and they need to know what they’re facing when they’re hanging out and partying, when they’re doing certain things they shouldn’t be doing.”

The Temple News disagrees that “this issue can affect any young person.” Being accused of sexual assault by 63 people, like Cosby, is not the norm.

While false accusations do occur, it is rare. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, multiple studies have found that false reporting only occurs between 2 and 10 percent of the time. An estimated 63 percent of sexual assaults are never reported to police at all.

Statistically, this means the vast majority of the time that a sexual assault is reported, it happened.

Given these statistics, it seems the type of education that would be most beneficial for young people would focus on consent, safe sex and how to report an assault if it occurs.

Of course, we don’t think Cosby would be the correct spokesperson for this particular educational campaign. In fact, we think Cosby needs to step away from education altogether.

That is why The Temple News calls on our university to revoke Cosby’s honorary degree, formally removing any connection between the comedian and the university.

The university has been trying to improve its procedures for reporting and responding to sexual assault. We were proud when Temple implemented a satellite office for Women Organized Against Rape in April, and when Temple Student Government Parliament passed a resolution asking the university to improve its sexual assault investigation processes. But staying silent on this is a step backward for the university.

If Temple can’t condemn this, why should students feel confident that the university will actually take their reports of sexual assault seriously? This university cannot say it “will not tolerate sexual assault” while still maintaining its connection to a prominent alumni who just announced a tour featuring how-to instructions on avoiding accountability.

A Temple spokesman said the university “doesn’t have a comment” on Cosby’s newest endeavor.

Of course, we don’t expect the university to comment on any believed innocence or guilt regarding the Cosby accusations. And we won’t either.

But to ignore a nationwide crusade by a former trustee to minimize sexual assault and those who report it is, frankly, unconscionable.

It is necessary that Cosby’s proposed town halls are called out for what they are unnecessary, insensitive and clearly only intended to benefit the tarnished reputation of Cosby himself.

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