The Founder’s Garden was dedicated to Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor and his wife, Marie, in mid-September. Now, just below the new statue of the university mascot at alumni circle, sits a commemorative plaque that reads: “O’Connor Plaza.”
The Temple News is wary of the decision to so closely associate O’Connor’s name with the image of the Owl, the very personification of the university itself and all the values we seek to represent.
O’Connor defended former trustee Bill Cosby in 2005 when Andrea Constand, a former university employee, accused him of sexual assault. In July 2015, a state judge released Cosby’s deposition in which he admitted to giving a woman quaaludes before sex.
Although the university found there was no conflict of interest in O’Connor representing Cosby, The Temple News disagrees, as have leaders of the Temple Association of University Professionals and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance. The student organization called for O’Connor’s name to be removed from the Founder’s Garden and for the chairman to step down from his role this past weekend.
We share FMLA’s concerns about so proudly associating with a man who has not shied away from Cosby, who at this point has been accused of sexual assault by more than 50 women.
O’Connor has signaled he doesn’t value women in the past, too. In 2014, O’Connor was asked about the lack of representation of women on the Board by a Philadelphia Magazine reporter. The representation ranked last out of 14 areas schools, according to Philadelphia Magazine. O’Connor responded with an outburst and said, “If Temple is the lowest one-eighth, I can live with that.”
O’Connor’s conscience can apparently allow him to live with a lot. But we at The Temple News can’t say the same. O’Connor does not represent the values of our community — those of respect and equality. And thus, the chairman does not deserve to be celebrated on our campus.