Actor Bill Cosby had an honorary Doctor of Letters degree stripped from his armory of awards as California State University Board of Trustees voted on Nov. 18 to revoke this honor. The award was presented to Cosby in 1992 on behalf of California Polytechnic University, Pomona.
Since June 1963, when the first honorary degree was presented to the late President John F. Kennedy, this accolade has stood to grace recipients who have made impressive strides to benefit humanity, any of the 23 CSU campuses, the state, nation and/or the American population at large.
The California State University Board of Trustees have presented a total of 502 awards to various distinguished individuals, and for the first time in 52 years, decided to take back the degree.
“Mr Cosby’s conduct is contrary to the values of the CSU and inconsistent with the criteria and high standards that honorary degree recipients are expected to exemplify.” said Director of Public Affairs for the Office of the Chancellor Toni Molle.
Cosby finds himself at the center of a media firestorm as dozens of women accuse him of drugging and sexually assaulting them, but Cosby denies any foul play and has yet to be charged with a crime.
As of early November, upwards of 60 women claim to have been a victim of rape, sexual battery, sexual battery, drug-induced sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct.
The accusations stretch all the way back to the 1960s, when a younger Cosby was beginning his rise to fame through various television shows such as “I Spy” and “The Electric Company.”
“It’s tough to believe that Bill Cosby engaged in one or two forced sexual encounters,” said DeVante Crable, transfer Junior at Sonoma State University, “so to hear so many women come forward, it is a little shocking and uncomfortable.”
Besides the Cal State system, other institutions such as Fordham, Goucher, Baylor, the University of San Francisco, Marquette and the University of Missouri have revoked their doctorates bestowed to Cosby. On top of all of these revocations, Cosby also decided to step down from the Temple University Board of Trustees last December.
The CSU Board of Trustees supports its decision by stating in a press release that they wish to keep the integrity, prestige, reputation and credibility of the 23 higher education facilities, Cal Poly Pomona and any other honorary doctorate recipients.
“I totally understand the reasoning behind taking away the award from him, but it also seems somewhat selfish on behalf of everyone taking things away from him just to preserve their image.” said Thomas Lynch, junior business marketing major at Sonoma State University.
Cosby has been under fire from all aspects of his career; the hit television program “The Cosby Show” was pulled off the air by a few stations such as TV Land and BET. The scandal went so far and upset so many people, that the general public pushed to have President Barack Obama pull Cosby’s Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“I think it’s pretty clear that he pissed a lot of people off with these scandals, but the public shaming and humiliation still does not do justice. I want to see the legal process take course to see the final verdict.” said Weston Henry, sophomore physics major at Sonoma State University.
In the latest series of events in the chaotic saga that has become Bill Cosby’s life, Cosby and his team of lawyers are fighting many fronts in the US Court system to try to defend the integrity of the once beloved comedian.
To stay up to date with the latest recipients of any honorary degrees presented on behalf of the California State University, please visit calstate.edu/honorarydegrees.