Students Want Notre Dame to Revoke Bill Cosby's Honorary Degree

Student leaders at the University of Notre Dame want the administration to revoke an honorary degree awarded to comedian Bill Cosby in 1990.

The student senate passed a resolution calling on the university to take back Cosby's honorary degree and to clarify the process by which individuals are selected to receive honorary degrees, the South Bend Tribune reported.

Dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual abuse over the past several years.

As a result, at least 26 colleges and universities have revoked honorary degrees awarded to Cosby.

Last fall, university spokesman Paul Browne said Notre Dame has never revoked an honorary degree and doesn't plan to do so for Cosby alone. He said Thursday that the university's position on the issue hasn't changed.

"Notre Dame weighed carefully the information in the public record on Bill Cosby before he was accorded the honor (26) years ago. Had the allegations surfaced then that have been made since, Notre Dame wouldn't have considered awarding the degree," Browne said in a written statement.

If the university decided to revoke the honorary degree, it would send a message of support to sexual assault victims, as well as reaffirm Notre Dame's morals and identity as a Catholic university, the resolution states.

"Mr. Cosby's association with these behaviors is in direct conflict with the University's stance, as stated in du Lac (the student handbook), that 'Sexual assault is inconsistent with the University's values and incompatible with the safe, healthy environment that the Notre Dame community expects,'" the resolution reads.

The call by the student senate comes amid widespread attention on the issue of sexual assault on college campuses across the nation, including Notre Dame, where 15 rapes reportedly happened in 2014.

"We're in a period of university history where we are trying to express intolerance for sexual violence," said student Grace Watkins, who helped craft the student senate's measure.

Since Notre Dame has refused to revoke Cosby's honorary degree, it's placed at the forefront of other schools that have decided not to take action, she said.

About 60 colleges and universities awarded honorary degrees to Cosby at the peak of his career. Many of them have revoked those honors or said they planned to consider doing so.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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