Updated: Jan. 11, 2015 at 2:55 p.m.
University President Steven Knapp announced that GW will revoke Bill Cosby’s honorary degree on Monday, reversing a previous decision.
GW officials discussed revoking Cosby’s honorary degree in October, but said at the time that it was not University policy to take back a degree. Last month, Cosby was charged with sexual assault in a 2004 case in Pennsylvania, and has allegedly assaulted dozens of other women over the last several decades, according to the New York Times.
Knapp said in a statement released on Monday that he changed his mind on the matter after speaking with students and colleagues. He said students questioned why GW did not take back the degree “given the numerous allegations of sexual assault” surrounding Cosby.
“What has particularly moved and impressed me has been the argument that, whatever may ultimately be determined about the guilt or innocence of Mr. Cosby in a court of law, the controversy itself has become a cause of renewed distress for our students and alumni who are survivors of sexual assault,” Knapp said in the statement.
The Student Association passed a resolution condemning the University for not revoking the degree in November.
Knapp said that students and staff will need to work together around the issue of sexual assault prevention, and said taking back the degree will not solve the problem of sexual assault on campuses. Knapp referred students and members of the GW community to the University’s sexual assault resources website, known as Haven, if they have any suggestions or questions about GW’s sexual assault response.
“This action by itself will not end the scourge of sexual assault on this or any other campus,” he said in the statement.
In a statement released following Knapp’s announcement, the Student Association said they “would like to thank” GW for making the decision to take back Cosby’s degree.
“We look forward to working with the University to build a more inclusive and safer campus,” according to the statement.