Howard University students and alumni are calling for “Cosby Show” actress Phylicia Rashad‘s firing from the school, where she serves as its dean of College of Fine Arts.
The actress was met with swift criticism after backtracking an earlier statement in which she celebrated the shocking news that her longtime TV husband Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction had been overturned by Pennsylvania’s highest court.
Earlier on Wednesday, the 73-year-old praised the ruling, stating, “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
Rashad accompanied the post with a photo of her former co-star, 83.
Howard University students were not only in an uproar over Rashad’s stance, they’re now claiming her latest statement in support of sexual assault survivors was merely a publicity stunt and are calling for her to be fired.
TODAY — Pictured: (l-r) Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad appear on NBC News’ “Today” show. (Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)
Nylah Burton is one alumna who has been quite vocal on her Twitter account since Rashad’s statement. She tweeted this week, “So proud to be from Howard University! Look at our role models! Defending serial rapists, warms the heart, it really does,” according to the U.K.’s DailyMail.
After Rashad tweeted that she “fully” supports survivors of sexual assault coming forward, Burton continued: “Just say @HowardU or your PR person told you to tweet this and go. The ONLY intent of your post was to be insensitive to survivors’ truths.”
According to reports, a woman named Whitney Meritus, who is a member of the Howard Class of 2024, wrote on Instagram: “‘Hold her a–accountable. I’d take a non-famous dean who believes SA victims over a celebrity dean who does s–t like this… Don’t get me wrong, I know she was his professor and all, but I don’t think she deserves to lead the Chadwick A. Boseman School of Fine Arts. Not anymore.”
One student claimed Rashad “triggered” her this week after sharing her own story of being a victim of an assault on campus.
“There’s history there. History of not listening to victims of abuse on their campus, history of treating students like children. I love Howard but things like this must cease in order for her to be the best she can be. Phylicia Rashad triggered tf outta me,” the tweet reads.
At one point on Twitter, the hashtag #ByePhylicia was trending.
Phylicia Rashad was called out over her support of Bill Cosby by actress Janet Hubert. (Getty Images)
Meanwhile, students and alumni have been sharing a GoFundMe page that was started back on June 3, prior to Rashad’s scandal, meant to raise donations for “current and former Howard students who are survivors, of all genders, and who have experienced all types of sexual violence across the spectrum.”
Burton on Wednesday raised awareness for the fund, writing, “SO, since the Dean of @HowardU College of Fine Arts wants to tell all of her students that sexual assault doesn’t matter to her, y’all can donate to help survivors of sexual violence from Howard.”
“Phylicia Rashad should STEP DOWN as the dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts. Having an r*pe apologist as dean of a college will put students’ safety on the line and demonize survivors when they report their cases on campus,” another person, who did not publicly communicate whether they have ties to the school, wrote.
“Survivors of sexual assault will always be our first priority,” the university said in the statement. “While Dean Rashad has acknowledged in her follow-up tweet that victims must be heard and believed, her initial tweet lacked sensitivity towards survivors of sexual assault.”
“Personal positions of University leadership do not reflect Howard University’s policies,” the statement continued. “We will continue to advocate for survivors fully and support their right to be heard. Howard will stand with survivors and challenge systems that would deny them justice. We have full confidence that our faculty and school leadership will live up to this sacred commitment.”