Temple's silence over its ties with Cosby raises questions on campus

Fri Nov 21, 2014 11:22am EST
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By Natalie Pompilio

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - In the years since Bill Cosby graduated from Temple University, the images of the school and the veteran comedian have become closely intertwined, a carefully cultivated relationship that is now raising uncomfortable questions at the Philadelphia school.

For at least some Temple students, the fresh scrutiny that Cosby is facing over allegations that he drugged and sexually assaulted several young women decades ago has cast an unflattering light on the school's tight association with him.

Cosby, who is a frequent visitor to the sprawling urban campus, spoke at Temple's graduation ceremonies in May and serves on its board of trustees. The Philadelphia native has sported sweatshirts bearing the university's logo so often that his fans find it difficult to hear the Temple name without thinking of its most famous alumnus.

Critics are concerned that the school, which fall formed a committee to review how it handles sexual misconduct on campus, has declined comment on all aspects of its relationship with Cosby.

"If Temple wants this to be a safer place for victims of sexual assault, a start would be addressing these allegations," said Grace Holleran, who wrote a column in the student newspaper earlier this month headlined "Stop Revering Bill Cosby."

"It's hard to take it seriously when there’s a huge scandal surrounding a member of the Board of Trustees and no one is talking about it."

Cosby's lawyers have called the allegations of sexual assault "discredited" and "defamatory" and the actor has refused to comment on the matter in interviews.

Even so, Cosby's career has been dealt a series of setbacks this week as the alleged grievances spread in the media. NBC this week canceled an upcoming project with Cosby and Netflix Inc postponed his stand-up comedy special due to be released this month.   Continued...

Actor Bill Cosby speaks at the National Action Network's 20th annual Keepers of the Dream Awards gala in New York April 6, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson