George Washington University Backtracks, Rescinding Bill Cosby's Honorary Degree

Illustration for article titled George Washington University Backtracks, Rescinding Bill Cosby's Honorary Degree

George Washington University is the latest school to announce they’re rescinding Bill Cosby’s honorary degree. GW said in October it wasn’t their practice to revoke honorary degrees, even in light of the tens of rape allegations against Cosby. On Monday, though, the school’s president said he’d reconsidered after conversations with sexual assault survivors on the faculty and in the student body.


In October, Cosby retained over 40 meaningless degrees; George Washington told Vulture there were simply no takebacks:

“While we are shocked and disturbed by the allegations against Mr. Cosby, honorary degrees are conferred at a moment in time, based on what the university knows about the honoree at that time. It has never been the university’s practice to rescind an honorary degree.”

But in a statement, school President Steven Knapp said numerous people had objected to that decision. The statement reads, in part:

Last October, we issued a statement indicating that honorary degrees were conferred at a moment in time, based upon what was known about the candidate at that time, and it had never been the university’s practice to rescind a degree in response to later information. Since then, however, I have continued to discuss this issue with students as well as colleagues. What has 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. That makes this case different, in my considered judgment, from other cases in which the assessment of a degree candidate might be altered by subsequent information or events. I have therefore decided that the university will rescind Mr. Cosby’s honorary degree.

Elsewhere in Bill Cosby’s increasingly busy schedule of public recriminations, he was indicted in Pennsylvania in December for the sexual assault of Andrea Constand. He is also being sued by and countersuing seven of his accusers in civil court; his wife Camille has temporarily been able to delay being deposed in that case, but won’t be able to put it off forever.

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Herbed and Spiced

Not as bad as defending Cosby, but still drives me crazy when a Cosby supporter goes all “by the way, that’s Dr. Cosby, to you” (see Eddie Griffin). I have a hard enough time calling some history PHD grad a doctor, let alone someone with an honorary degree. If you don’t put your hand up when someone yells, “Is anyone here a doctor?!”, you are not a doctor.