Penn removed two plaques that referenced "Wynn Commons" from benches outside College Hall on Feb. 4, following an inquiry from The Daily Pennsylvanian into the matter. The plaques will be replaced with "Penn Commons" over the next month, University spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy wrote in a subsequent email to the DP.
"We were not aware that there was still that small reference to Wynn Commons on the bench plaques, thus they were removed and will be replaced soon without the Wynn reference," MacCarthy wrote in an email on Feb. 5, three days after the DP's initial inquiry. The benches are located outside in the Penn Commons area, behind College Hall and facing Houston Hall.
In February 2018, Penn announced that it would remove 1963 College graduate Steve Wynn's name from "Wynn Commons" following sexual misconduct allegations against the former Trustee. Nearly a year after the announcement, the two benches behind College Hall still bore plaques acknowledging the donation that went toward "Wynn Commons."
“The University of Pennsylvania gratefully acknowledges the generosity of Robert Weiser, C’74, and Susan Gorel Weiser, CW’74, for helping to create this garden area in Wynn Commons,” one of the benches, which sits outside of the admissions office entrance, read. The second bench plaque also thanked other donors for creating the "Wynn Commons" garden area.
In 1995, Wynn donated $7.5 million to Penn for the building of Wynn Commons. In January 2018, after dozens of sexual misconduct allegations against the mogul were reported by the Wall Street Journal, Penn announced it would rescind Wynn's honorary degree and remove Wynn's name from Wynn Commons.
Wynn also stepped down from his position as CEO of casino company Wynn Resorts Ltd. in February 2018. He is now facing dozens of sexual misconduct allegations, but he denies all allegations.
College senior August Gebhard-Koenigstein, who works in the Undergraduate Admissions Office, said he occasionally eats lunches on the benches, which he says “no one really uses.” Gebhard-Koenigstein said he noticed the plaques there shortly after the University decided to remove the larger signage in February 2018.
Students said Penn made the right decision removing the bench plaques.
“I think that was really encouraging to see that the University does seem to care — at least on appearances — about responding to allegations of sexual violence, even from really prominent donors," said College senior Kara Hardie, chair of Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention.
Undergraduate Assembly President and College senior Michael Krone said the removal of the plaques “was a really good step that the University took to strike his name, and it shows that no matter how much you put in — no amount of money can erase bad deeds.”
College junior Tanya Jain, chair of Penn Association for Gender Equality, supported the University's decision to remove the plaques, but added that she hoped the University would acknowledge the name's presence and apologize for not addressing the name sooner.
"I do think it's important that they recognize their lack of oversight," Jain said.
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