Dishonorable comedian Bill Cosby served as the commencement speaker for the graduating class of Ohio State University in 2001, and was given an honorary degree as a result. According to the Associated Press
, University trustees approved a motion to revoke Cosby’s degree last Friday before he begins his sexual assault retrial this morning.
Cosby’s first trial ended in a hung jury, and the start of this retrial focuses on one of the 58 women that have accused him of sexual assault. Cosby claims the encounter was consensual, but the victim, Andrea Constand, claims Cosby drugged her before assaulting her in his home near Philadelphia back in 2004. Opening statements in the trial against the 80-year-old comedian will be made today outside Philadelphia.
Ohio State University defended its decision in a statement saying, "by his own admission, Bill Cosby violated our university’s principles and values.”
This isn’t the first honorary degree to be retracted from Cosby, as the University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Tufts, Fordham University, Baylor, Boston University, University of San Francisco and Oberlin College have all followed suit. For Ohio State, however, this is the first time in university history that an honorary degree has been rescinded. University spokesperson Chris Davey noted in a statement that Ohio State administrators had to create a process to annul an honorary degree.
In his 2001 commencement address Cosby said, “A dream is a dream. That’s all it is. It has no order. And you have no memory when you wake up unless it was in fact, a nightmare.”
Given that nearly 60 women live a waking nightmare each day because of his alleged actions, a terminated honorary degree is a small step on the healing path toward justice.