Northwestern remains silent on Bill Cosby’s 1997 honors

Peter Kotecki, Assistant Campus Editor

As colleges and universities around the country decide whether to revoke Bill Cosby’s honorary degrees due to numerous sexual assault allegations against him, Northwestern’s decision on the issue remains unclear.

Cosby, who as of September 2015 has been accused of sexual assault by more than 50 women, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from NU in 1997, according to an article from that year in The Daily. Cosby also delivered the commencement speech at NU that year.

Many institutions recognized Cosby for his success in the entertainment business, awarding him honorary degrees in categories including education, law and public service.

Since the allegations against Cosby came to light, colleges and universities have taken different approaches to his case — some schools took no action, some have revoked his honorary degrees and others are debating what to do.

University spokesman Al Cubbage declined to comment.

Yale University took no action regarding Cosby’s honors despite an online petition signed by about 200 members of the Yale community asking the university’s president to rescind the honors Cosby received in 2003. Yale has never revoked an honorary degree, according to the Yale Daily News.

In the last two weeks alone, Fordham University, Marquette University and Brown University revoked the honors Cosby received at the respective institutions, according to The New York Times.

Some schools, including Ohio State University, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, are still deciding what to do. A proposal to rescind Cosby’s honorary degree at John Jay is currently under consideration, according to The New York Times.

Communication junior Amanda Odasz, communications chair of Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators, said the organization did not have an opportunity to discuss Bill Cosby in its meetings. However, Odasz said she personally believes NU should not be supportive of Cosby, particularly because the University has taken steps to push messages about trying to prevent rape on campus.

“It doesn’t make sense that Northwestern should support Bill Cosby in any way, including him having an honorary degree from the University,” Odasz said.

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