Brown University joined the ranks of U.S. universities rescinding honorary degrees awarded in the past to comedian and actor Bill Cosby.
In 1985, Bill Cosby had received an honorary degree from Brown University. Now, as the echoes of the sexual abuse scandals are looming, the University is the third to revoke any ties with the acknowledged comedian.
The letter sent out to students of the University on Monday and signed by President Christina Paxson, reads:
“It has become clear, by his own admission in legal depositions that became public this summer, that Mr. Cosby has engaged in conduct with women that is contrary to the values of Brown and the qualities for which he was honored by the University in 1985”.
Marquette University in Milwaukee and Fordham University in New York have also rescinded honorary degrees awarded to Bill Cosby in the past. These moves mirror a greater concern at federal level. Universities in several states have been facing a growing number of incidents that involve sex assaults occurring on college campuses. Against this background, distancing themselves from personalities that have engaged in similar behavior, encouraged it and possibly even promoted it, is a necessary disclaiming act.
Over 50 women have stepped forward alleging unwanted sexual content with Bill Cosby. Some of the cases date back to as far as the 1960s. The now 78-year-old comedian is defended by his lawyer team under the statement that he has never admitted forcing anyone into having sexual contact.
Nonetheless, in July 2005, Bill Cosby testified that he was obtaining Quaaludes, a sedative drug that he was later using to sedate women in order to engage in sexual contact. None of the claims of the over 50 women who allege they have been drugged or sexually abused or both have been proven.
Nonetheless, in the statement made by Joseph M. McShane, the President of Fordham University, strong words could be read:
“Mr. Cosby’s sexual exploitation of women was premeditated and ongoing. Equally appalling is his longtime strategy of denigrating the reputations of women who accused him of such actions”.
This statement, albeit heavily criticized by Bill Cosby’s lawyer, seems to mirror the concerns of many. Except for the three universities that have rescinded their honorary degrees awarded to the long-time entertainer, others have also cut any ties.
Spelman College took the decision to end the Cosby professorship already in July. Bill Cosby and Camille Cosby have been donating a total of 20 million dollars to the Spelman College over the years.
The Central State University of Ohio decided to rename the Camille O. & William H. Cosby Communications Centers. It is now called the CSU Communications Center. Here too, the history of donations from the Cosby family extends to 2 million dollars.
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