Kanye West‘s honourary doctorate degree from the School Of The Arts Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been revoked. The rescindment came in reaction to the rapper’s recent comments directed at Black and Jewish communities.
According to a letter reported on by TMZ, SAIC president Elisa Tenny decided to revoke the doctorate degree because West’s “anti-Black, antisemitic, and incendiary statements, particularly those directed at Black and Jewish communities, are disgusting and condemnable”.
Tenny went on to state that the degree was given to the rapper “in recognition for his artistic accomplishments to that point in time” but that his “disturbing behaviors” and “dangerous statements” mean he no longer stands in alignment with the Chicago school’s “community values.”
Kanye sparked further backlash for praising Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in an extensive interview with far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Tenny said that the rapper’s actions “have been painful for our entire community and, particularly, for those of us who feel that our identities and life experiences are under attack”.
Tenny was forced to clarify that honourary graduates’ political beliefs are not taken into account by the SAIC. However, the school decided to rescind West’s degree after “conferring with the [school’s] Board of Governors” and talking to the “many” students who felt uncomfortable with his connection to the university.
Her letter continued: “This was a difficult decision to make, and one that has been deliberated thoroughly. There is no precedent in SAIC’s more than 80 years of granting honorary degrees for rescinding one, and as an institution of higher education, we know we must uphold a higher standard in protecting freedom of expression. Though we firmly believe in the right to express a diversity of opinions and beliefs, the severity of [West’s] behavior made it clear that rescinding this honor was appropriate.”