University of San Francisco rescinds Bill Cosby’s honorary degree in light of sexual assault allegations

FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, file photo, comedian Bill Cosby performs during a show at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne, Fla. More than a dozen of Cosby's accusers will have their say in a TV special. The A&E channel said "Cosby: The Women Speak," airing 9 p.m. EDT Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, will detail the allegations they've made and the damage to Cosby's career and image. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — The University of San Francisco’s Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to rescind an honorary degree awarded to comedian Bill Cosby in 2012 in light of continuing allegations of sexual assault.

USF president Rev. Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J., sent a letter to the university community Wednesday regarding the board of trustees’ Friday vote to rescind Cosby’s honorary degree.

Fitzgerald said the university has also sent a letter to Cosby informing him of their decision.

“By his own statements in a court deposition made public in July, Mr. Cosby acknowledges behavior that is inconsistent with the University of San Francisco’s criteria for a USF honorary degree,” Fitzgerald said. He noted that the campus-wide discussion surrounding the rescinding of Cosby’s honorary degree had coincided with a campus-wide discussion on the broader topic of sexual assault and consent.

Fitzgerald said that the university is committed to ending sexual assault on campus, and highlighted a USF event earlier this month at which San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, Supervisor Jane Kim, and Police Chief Greg Suhr “announced a new protocol to ensure a coordinated approach for reporting sexual assault that meets the health, privacy, and safety needs of our students.”

Fitzgerald said the university has also been recognized for its online student-training program, Think About It, which educates students about alcohol, drugs, and sexual violence. Think About It was co-created at USF and is now used at more than 500 universities across the United States.

Additionally, the university’s Internet-based program, Callisto, enables anonymous online reporting of sexual assaults, Fitzgerald said. USF was the first university in the country to implement Callisto when it began using it this fall, according to the university president.

Fitzgerald said that Cosby’s alleged behavior is not only inconsistent with the university’s criteria for an honorary degree, but also inconsistent with the morals upheld by USF.

“As a Jesuit Catholic university, we believe there is a moral dimension to every significant human choice,” the president wrote Wednesday.

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