FMLA to rally again outside BOT meeting on Tuesday

The student organization will protest the dedication of O’Connor Plaza again on Tuesday.

Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance members gather in O’Connor Plaza on Oct. 5, 2017, to protest the dedication of Founder’s Garden and demand Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor step down. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / FILE PHOTO

The Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance will rally outside the Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. to protest the naming of O’Connor Plaza.

Temple’s Young Democratic Socialists of America and Socialist Students of Temple will also join the rally Tuesday afternoon.

FMLA last rallied at O’Connor Plaza on Feb. 19 in an effort to remove Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor from the Board and his name from O’Connor Plaza, which was dedicated on Sept. 14.

Since October, FMLA representatives have protested outside each Board of Trustees meeting.

O’Connor represented former trustee Bill Cosby in a civil suit in 2005 after former university employee Andrea Constand accused him of sexual assault.

Tuesday’s rally will be larger than past rallies, with speakers from different organizations around campus, said Elizabeth Olson, a junior political science and environmental studies major and the FMLA member heading the O’Connor campaign.

In October, FMLA started an email campaign, sending President Richard Englert repeated messages expressing their concerns about O’Connor and the plaza. The group has since ended its email effort because Englert has not responded, Olson said.

“It makes us want to work harder,” Olson added. “As far as this whole campaign goes, we’re trying to uplift survivors and fight for a better campus overall. The fact that the president doesn’t want to hear us out or try to work it out is kind of a slap in the face.”

As part of a larger “O’Connor Step Down” campaign that FMLA started in September, the student organization has been collecting stories from students anonymously about their experiences with mental health and sexual assault resources at Temple. Students can give their feedback through online.

“It’s not just for survivors of sexual assault,” Olson said. “We’re just collecting impressions and experiences, how people have found the resources helpful or not.”

In November, FMLA had received 17 stories from students.

The organization has received more than 40 stories since October, when it began using flyers to promote the website around campus, Olson said.

“When we take this information to the university, they want to know that we have students’ voices and we’ve actually been talking to people to see how they feel about [resources],” said Kayla Boone, a senior strategic communication major and FMLA’s public relations officer. “It’s mainly to show the university that people have things to say about this.”

Dean of Students Stephanie Ives has expressed interest in students’ feelings about on-campus resources, Olson said.

FMLA last met with Ives and Title IX Coordinator Andrea Seiss in November. The organization is planning to meet with Ives and Seiss in the next few weeks, Olson said.

In an email, Ives confirmed the upcoming meeting with FMLA and Seiss.

“The dialogue has been helpful, and I trust that the upcoming meeting will be as productive as the previous two meetings have been,” Ives wrote.

“They last said they are interested in hearing from us and what we can do, and what our ideas are moving forward,” Boone said. “So that’s really where we’re at, just trying to figure out ways we can combat this issue.”

The organization’s main concern now is getting information out to students by circulating flyers, Boone added.

“A big part of any campaign is just getting the word out, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Olson said. “We’re trying to get people involved, get people motivated and get people to want to make a change.”

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