University of Southern California

Film producer Harvey Weinstein, who was fired from the production company he co-founded in response to sexual harassment and assault allegations, recently said he was working with USC to create a foundation to create scholarships for female directors.

But the university announced Tuesday it wants nothing to do with his proposed $5 million foundation.

“The USC School of Cinematic Arts will not proceed with Mr. Weinstein’s pledge to fund a $5M endowment for women filmmakers,” according to the school.

Following the publication of a New York Times article last week that outlined a series of sexual harassment claims against Weinstein, the co-founder of Miramax and The Weinstein Company issued a written statement that included his plans for the scholarship fund.

“It will be named after my mom and I won’t disappoint her,” Weinstein said.

In the wake of the New York Times story, and an ensuing story by The New Yorker in which some women alleged they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein, USC student Tiana Lowe started a petition on calling on the university to cut ties with the producer.

“In short, he’s doing what guilty men throughout history have done to avoid taking ownership of their actions: blaming a pervasive culture, deflecting focus and buying moral absolution,” Lowe wrote in the petition. “As a woman at USC, the prospect that my university might sell an indulgence to ease Harvey Weinstein’s non-existent guilt saddens me.”

She added, “I’d like USC to finally muster the moral spine to refuse Harvey Weinstein’s blood money in exchange for its soul. We are blessed with the expansive and charitable Trojan family. We don’t need this money. What we need is some damn principles.”

More than 200 people had signed the petition by late afternoon Tuesday.

Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama also added their voices Tuesday to those condemning alleged acts of sexual harassment and assault by film the film mogul — and high-profile Democratic Party supporter.

“Michelle and I have been disgusted by the recent reports about Harvey Weinstein,” the Obamas said in a joint statement.

“Any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status,” according to the Obamas. “We should celebrate the courage of women who have come forward to tell these painful stories. And we all need to build a culture — including by empowering our girls and teaching our boys decency and respect — so we can make such behavior less prevalent in the future.”

–City News Service

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