Universities Finally Decide Cosby’s Not a Good Representative

May 2, 2018; Hartford Courant

Now that Bill Cosby has actually been convicted on three counts of sexual assault, a number of colleges and universities are finally making moves to rescind his honorary degrees. Reportedly, he has accumulated 60 such awards over the years. Among those finally making the move are Yale, Northwestern, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of South Carolina, Johns Hopkins University, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Notre Dame, Boston College, and Wesleyan University, among others. Cosby’s alma mater, Temple University, voted to rescind his honorary doctorate last week.

Notre Dame’s statement, made by its president, Rev. John L. Jenkins, reads as follows:

As a result of his conviction today on three felony charges in a sexual assault, the University of Notre Dame has rescinded the honorary degree awarded to Bill Cosby in 1990. While certainly troubled by serious, public accusations made by multiple women against him, the University elected to wait until due process had been afforded the accused, and a verdict delivered, before rescinding the honor.

Which certainly sounds reasonable, but where have they been? A juror commented following the trial at which Cosby was convicted that what turned the tide for them was the actor’s own admission in a 2005 deposition that he had drugged women to have sex with them. The deposition stayed sealed until 2015 when a judge released it as accusations mounted. Many other universities acted long before this to make statements about their own values relative to this case. Maybe for some, it just was not that meaningful.—Ruth McCambridge