Boston College Won’t Rescind Bill Cosby’s Degree, Makes Weak Argument Why Not
Admittedly, the bulk of our coverage of the ongoing Bill Cosby scandal has focused on Boston University, to date the final school to bestow upon the alleged serial rapist of literally dozens of women an honorary degree. As egregious as President Robert Brown’s effusive remarks sound now that unsealed court documents have revealed that Cosby admitted to using quaaludes to have sex with women, it’s important to note that BU isn’t the only Boston-area college—or even the only one on the B line—that has yet to address its outstanding ties with the disgraced sitcom dad.
Vulture reached out to the nearly 40 schools that have honored Cosby in one way or another over the years—since 1990, Cosby has not gone more than five years without receiving an honorary degree—and compiled the statements they received. Berklee College of Music struck Cosby’s name off an online scholarship last year, and said it’s “actively engaged in internal discussion to determine our course of action” regarding the degree it awarded Cosby in 2004. Tufts University outright rescinded its honorary degree earlier this month. BU, meanwhile, shared its plans for “still monitoring” in perpetuity.
Boston College, which awarded Cosby a Doctor of Humane Letters in 1996, is at least straightforward about its intentions. They won’t do diddly-doo.
“Bill Cosby was awarded an honorary degree from Boston College in 1996 in recognition of his role as an actor and humorist and his work on behalf of education,” BC told Vulture. “While the recent allegations against him are reprehensible, as a matter of policy Boston College does not rescind honorary degrees.”
Reprehensible? Yes. Reprehensible enough to warrant, say, action? You wish.
The “matter of policy” argument is a particularly bad one, and suggests that keeping “the way we’ve always done things” intact is somehow more valuable than distancing the school from a man accused of sexually assaulting scores of women and publicly denigrating them should they dare make a peep about it. Fordham University and Marquette University, both Jesuit schools like BC, as well as Brown University all made exceptions to their rules regarding honorary degrees, collectively turning their backs on 559 years of precedent to revoke Cosby’s degree.
Boston College’s first justification, that it awarded Cosby an honorary degree in 1996 solely for his work as an actor and educator, is deeply flawed as well. A common theme of accusers’ stories is how Cosby allegedly used his prominence to lure vulnerable women just starting out in show-biz with promises of career advancement. In other words, he allegedly used the very thing you commended him for to exploit women for nearly three decades prior to 1996.
That’s worth tweaking how things are done in the Heights.