The faculty at Pennsylvania-based Lehigh University has voted in favor of rescinding an honorary degree bestowed on Trump in 1988.
With a 76 percent response rate among faculty, a staggering 83 percent of respondents said that the university should move forward with rescission. The decision now goes to the university’s Board of Trustees, which will make a final decision at its next meeting.
The decision to hold the vote came two weeks ago after the faculty said that “Trump’s behavior goes against the character and standards of the Lehigh community.”
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In October, on the heels of Trump’s tacit refusal to forcefully condemn the white supremacists and neo-Nazis at a “pro-white” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a Change.org petition demanding the rescission of the same honorary degree made national headlines.
The petition, which had nearly 24,000 signatures, was delivered to Lehigh University President John D. Simon, who sent it to the Board of Trustees. The Board ultimately decided to take no action, claiming that “Lehigh University encourages respectful dialogue, discussion, and learning about important societal issues.”
There is precedent for the rescission of honorary degrees at Lehigh. In 2015, Lehigh’s Board of Trustees rescinded Bill Cosby’s honorary degree amid his sexual assault allegations. The university, for its part, claimed that Cosby’s alleged behavior was “inconsistent with the character and high standards” expected of honorees.
There is also precedent for the rescission of Trump’s own honorary degrees. The President, who has been awarded five honorary degrees, has already been stripped of one. Robert Gordon University in Scotland revoked the honor in 2015, citing his comments about a Muslim ban that were “wholly incompatible with the ethos and values of the university.”
While a symbolic gesture, Lehigh University’s decision to rescind this honorary degree would send a clear message that those who perpetuate hate and condone violence will not be rewarded.