Students Seek To Flunk Cosby’s Degree

As Bill Cosby remains embroiled in lawsuits related to accusations of sexual assault, student leaders at universities across the country want to revoke honorary degrees he was previously awarded.

Photo: AP Photo / Brennan Linsley
Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre, Denver, Colo.

Student government at the University of Notre Dame passed a resolution recommending the university invalidate the degree it awarded Cosby in 1990 for his work as an actor and public figure.

The action of these students at Notre Dame represents a larger movement to pressure university officials, and other institutions, to condemn Cosby or express solidarity with victims of sexual assault. “When debating Bill Cosby’s degree revocation, we must take stock of the message we send to sexual assault survivors at Notre Dame. Currently, it’s the wrong one,” said Notre Dame student Grace Watkins, who helped in the writing of the resolution.

The university’s position is that it has never rescinded honorary degrees in the past and does not plan on making an exception in this instance.

A similar stance was initially taken at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., but students were successful in convincing the administration to reconsider and eventually change its position. “What particularly moved and impressed me has been the argument that, whatever may ultimately be determined about the guilt or innocence of Mr. Cosby in a court of law, the controversy itself has become a cause of renewed distress for our students and alumni who are survivors of sexual assault,” GWU President Steven Knapp said.

The South Bend Tribune reports Cosby has received approximately 60 honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning, of which 26 have been rescinded. Cosby was recently granted a delay in his own questioning in a sexual battery lawsuit in California, so that he could address sexual assault charges in another trial in Pennsylvania. More than 50 women have publicly accused Mr. Cosby of sexual assault in the last two years, a number of whom have filed suit against him.