The Cosby question

Lafayette has no plans to revoke honorary degree

By Aidan Trevisan ‘19

Contributing Writer

Over the past few weeks, colleges and universities across the country have been revoking their honorary degrees given to comedian Bill Cosby.

Cosby was one of the most beloved men on television until about a year ago. His honors include receiving the 2002 Presidential Medal of Freedom, eight Grammys, seven Emmys and being awarded about 60 honorary degrees, including one from Lafayette College in 1996.

To date 11 of those degrees have been rescinded, including one at Lehigh University. At least three colleges have dropped his endowed scholarships, the Navy has revoked his honorary Chief Petty Officership, Disney World has removed his statue, Simon and Schuster has refused to release the paperback version of his 2014 biography and Nevada has changed it’s statute of limitations on reporting sex crimes from 4 years to 20 years, citing the impact of the accusations.

Cosby has been accused by 54 women of some count of sexual assault. However, he has yet to be charged for any crime.

Cosby was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in 1996 from the college. At the 161st commencement, he spoke about family values and his love of learning.

The college has no current plans to rescind Cosby’s degree.

“Cosby receiving this award was an event that happened in the past,” President Alison Byerly said, adding that although what Cosby is accused of is “shocking, disappointing and appalling” the question of rescinding an honorary degree is a technical question to do with college policy.

The degree has not been rescinded, however, references to Cosby as an honored guest at the college have been deleted off of Lafayette College’s website.

“That was a gesture that was very easy to make, I think [it] represented our desire to not seem to be continuing to endorse him – to have him on the website today as a honored speaker, implies that today we continue to honor who he is, and that’s a decision about the present that we can make, as opposed to a decision about the past that it’s a little bit harder to undo,” Byerly said.