The Board of Trustees will vote on whether or not to revoke Bill Cosby’s honorary degree from the University of Connecticut at its meeting on Wednesday.
Cosby will be standing trial in July for sexual assault. The comedian and former sitcom star has been accused of sexual assault by dozens of women, and in 2006 admitted to buying Quaaludes with the intent of giving them to women.
A recommendation from the office of UConn Provost Mun Y. Choi calls for the Board to revoke Cosby’s 1996 Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts:
“Since the conferring of this honorary degree, Mr. Cosby has admitted, in sworn depositions that he engaged in conduct that is incongruent with the values of the University of Connecticut,” the release said. “The University respects the principles of due process and Mr. Cosby’s right to a fair and public trial on the criminal charges against him. But the conduct which he admitted in his sworn testimony provides compelling reasons for the University of Connecticut to consider the revocation of his honorary degree.”
The University of Connecticut has never before revoked an honorary degree, according to spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.
However, several other universities (including Brown University, Oberlin College, Marquette University and Fordham University) have revoked honorary degrees given to Cosby.
In March, UConn’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG) unanimously passed a statement of position calling on the university to revoke Cosby’s degree <http://dailycampus.com/stories/2016/4/5/usg-calls-for-revocation-of-bill-cosbys-honorary-degree>. In May, the University Senate (representing students, staff, and faculty) voted unanimously in support of that resolution.
USG commuter senator Haddiyyah Ali (and Daily Campus contributor) , who authored the USG resolution, praised the recommendation and said it was a way to demonstrate a firm stand against sexual assault.
“I’m glad that it’s going to be public, and that we’re going to hear a wider conversation,” Ali said. “One of the statements in our legislation is that the university needs to commit itself to sexual assault by revoking his degree.”
Ali said this revocation and recent state legislation supporting a standard of affirmative are both positives in combatting sexual assault but added the conversation and work is still ongoing.
“[Revoking the degree] shows that we have a standard of conduct… The institution is saying you do not represent us. So now it’s time to say what does represent us,” Ali said.
The Board of Trustees will vote on the revocation and discuss the university’s budget on June 29 in Lewis B. Rome Commons Ballroom.
Chris McDermott is the news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.