FMLA plans next steps in campaign to remove O’Connor from BOT and plaza

The student organization will start an email campaign to President Richard Englert.

Members of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance gather in Gladfelter Hall on Tuesday for the organization's first meeting since the dedication of O'Connor Plaza, which the organization publicly condemned on Saturday. | WILL BLEIER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

At its first action meeting since the dedication of O’Connor Plaza on Sept. 14, the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance discussed their campaign to have Board of Trustees chairman Patrick O’Connor step down from the Board and his name removed from the plaza.

The organization, which officially condemned the dedication of the plaza on Saturday, plans to start an email campaign to President Richard Englert where all students can send the president emails about how they are affected by the dedication of plaza.

President Englert’s email address was displayed on the screen at Tuesday’s meeting, and FMLA President Martha Sherman called on the attendees to send him a message containing their personal feelings on the plaza dedication.

FMLA does not have any specific plans for future protest, but Sherman said that the email initiative would just be the beginning of a much larger movement.

Sherman and members discussed the possibility of events like a rally and university petition. The organization also discussed the prospect of having the Class of 2018 boycott donating to the university until O’Connor’s name is removed and he steps down from the Board.

FMLA also wants to begin tabling around Main Campus in order to distribute information to students about their campaign, Sherman added.

“We have to escalate our campaign, which means each action that we do is going to get aggressively bigger until the university can’t ignore us,” Sherman said.

The university dedicated the plaza at Liacouras and Polett walks to O’Connor and his wife, Marie, for their years of leadership at the university.

O’Connor represented Bill Cosby in the civil suit against former university employee Andrea Constand, who he allegedly sexually assaulted in 2005, and the organization said this relationship to Cosby is why O’Connor’s name should be removed from the plaza and he should step down from the Board.

Public Relations Chair Kayla Boone spoke about her motivation behind crafting the statement condemning the plaza dedication at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I think it’s important for us to really amplify the voices of survivors of sexual assault in this instance,” Boone said. “We can’t speak over or speak for people. You can’t tell people that their experiences are not real and just made up.”

Many FMLA members shared how they were impacted by the dedication at the meeting.

“Temple a lot of the time focuses on money over people’s opinions and voices and the voices of their students,” said junior sociology major Julia Dugan. “It’s important that we are still heard, and I want President Englert to really acknowledge us and hear what we’re saying.”

“I plan on following the campaign, working toward a petition,” she added. “I’d love to do a demonstration, whether it be in the plaza or at the bell tower. I think that FMLA doesn’t want to step back from this.”

Sophomore journalism major Emma Kuliczkowski said she did not know who O’Connor was before she joined FMLA, but became informed of the trustee’s past connection with Cosby.

“I think it’s ridiculous that we are kind of congratulating O’Connor for being on the Board of Trustees and having his name in the center of campus,” she added. “I definitely want to participate in the campaign … because it’s not acceptable.”

Boone reaffirmed FMLA’s commitment to achieve its goals of the removal of O’Connor and how the dedication affected her.

“Everyone’s experiences dictate who they are as a person, and who I am as a person should be represented at Temple. I don’t feel like my values matter in this,” Boone said. 

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