PA--Another college rescinds Bill Cosby honor, victims applaud move

For immediate release: Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015

Statement by Karen Polesir of Ambler, SNAP leader (

We applaud Swathmore College officials for rescinding Bill Cosby’s honorary degree and Drexel University officials for doing so weeks ago. It’s time the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Missouri and every other institution to do the same.

We make society safer when we revoke honors for rapists, whether convicted or credibly accused. We make it easier for victims of sexual violence to speak up, get help, expose offenders and protect others.

It’s bogus for Penn officials to claim “We haven’t ever revoked a degree before.” First, that’s not true (as Philly Magazine’s Monica Weymouth has pointed out). Second, it’s irrelevant. The university has probably never before honored a prominent entertainer who later was accused of raping, drugging and abusing dozens of women.

By refusing to take action, school officials are making it harder for current victims of campus sex crimes to report their experiences. And they’re rubbing salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of dozens of already-hurt students and alums.

For the healing of the wounded and the protection of the vulnerable, Cosby’s honor should be withdrawn. It serves no purpose now but to heap more pain on those already suffering and discourage them from reporting offenders and getting help.

Recently, several Chicago-area institutions have rescinded or removed honors for ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert. We’re grateful to them for this. It’s a sensitive move. We hope Penn officials will follow their example soon. And we hope Penn students and staff will prod the school’s hierarchy to do this.

Adults have a simple choice: Do we make it easier or harder for victims to report crimes? Honoring wrongdoers makes it harder. And that’s wrong.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell,


Penn, Are You Serious About Not Revoking Bill Cosby’s Honorary Degree?  On a campus where 27 percent of women report being sexually assaulted, the hesitation is unacceptable.


When the Association of American Universities released its survey on sexual assault in September, Penn President Amy Gutmann called the findings “deeply troubling.”

Deeply troubling, indeed. Although the numbers weren’t unique to Penn — results were “deeply troubling” across the board — that didn’t make them any easier to take in.

A staggering 27 percent of undergraduate women who responded to the survey reported that they had been sexually assaulted at Penn. A full two-thirds reported that they were subject to  . . . 

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