Now More Than Ever, BU Must Rescind Bill Cosby’s Honorary Degree
Things aren’t looking great for honorary Boston University alumnus Bill Cosby.
A federal judge in Philadelphia unsealed records Monday from a 2005 civil suit, in which Cosby admitted, under questioning, that he had given quaaludes to young women in order to have sex with them. This case—filed by Andrea Constand, a basketball assistant at Cosby’s alma mater Temple University, and one of the first women to accuse the sitcom dad—was settled out of court.
In May, Boston magazine asked, “Why Hasn’t BU Rescinded Bill Cosby’s Honorary Degree?” Two months and one admission later, we’re still not quite sure.
BU awarded Cosby in May 2014 a Doctor of Humane Letters, the same degree it bestowed upon Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel. “Above all, you are an educator, by word and example,” President Robert Brown drawled. Five months later, comedian Hannibal Buress called Cosby a rapist, setting in motion the 77-year-old’s precipitous fall from grace amidst mounting accusations.
Granted, Cosby’s admission had been sealed away in court documents and unavailable to the folks in charge of selecting honorary degree recipients at BU prior to Monday. But what was available—both in print and online—were accounts published in our sister publication Philadelphia magazine, Philadelphia Daily News, Newsweek, and People detailing Cosby’s alleged sexual misconduct.
On Facebook, our last call for BU to sever ties with a man accused of sexual assault by more than 40 women with congruous accounts was met with a frosty response.
Sure, Cosby has never been formally convicted of any wrongdoing. The issue here is sensitivity. Given the events of the last five years—men’s hockey team scandal, the alleged library groper, a handful of peeping tom reports, the school’s inclusion in the Education Department’s sexual assault probe—honoring a man publicly accused by four women at the time and literally dozens since shows a disturbing degree of tone-deafness.
The schools closest to Cosby—hell, even the U.S. Navy—have taken action to distance themselves from him. The Orlando Sentinel reported Tuesday that Disney World would soon remove a statue of Cosby from its Hollywood Studios. Surely a piece of paper is easier to take back than a bronze bust, no?