George Washington University administrators said they will not take back the honorary degree the school awarded to Bill Cosby in 1997, despite the student government's unanimous vote Tuesday in favor of revoking the diploma.
"While we are shocked and disturbed by the allegations against Mr. Cosby, it has never been the university’s practice to rescind an honorary degree," university officials said in a statement to News4.
Students are calling for the university to withdraw Cosby’s honorary degree as a result of a slew of sexual assault allegations against the comedian and television star.
"Just today, a woman sued (Cosby) for defamation. There have been several cases like this," said student government member Nick Watkins.
Student leaders told News4 the university has struggled to improve its response to sexual violence, and said Cosby represents the worst of the problem.
"An honorary degree should be reserved for someone who represents the values of our university," explained Erika Feinman, another member of the student government.
Former university president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, who awarded Cosby the honor in 1997, said he agrees with the university’s decision.
"He’s a monster. But now that’s history. It’s pointless to retract it. Instead, do something positive," said Trachtenberg.
Trachtenberg went on to suggest even stronger emphasis on combating sexual abuse.
The student government leaders told News4 they will continue to push for action by the university.
Several schools around the country have revoked honorary degrees awarded to Cosby, including Tufts University in Massachusetts, Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, Fordham University in New York and Marquette University in Wisconsin.