Lehigh University in Pennsylvania announced on Friday that it will revoke the honorary degree granted to President Donald Trump when he delivered the school’s commencement address in 1988.
In a special session, the school’s Board of Trustees convened and collectively agreed to strip the president of the award following the violent insurrection that broke out at the US Capitol which left five people dead.
While the university has declined to release more information on the matter, the riot was publicly denounced by University President John D. Simon on Wednesday, January 7, saying that the protest led by pro-Trump supporters was a “violent assault” on American democracy and the will of people who voted in the election.
A message from President Simon: pic.twitter.com/lPc4vPCTSQ
— Lehigh University (@LehighU) January 7, 2021
President Simon’s statement was met with criticism on social media because the school administration has since 2017 consistently ignored multiple petitions to rescind Trump’s honorary degree.
The latest petition was launched by Office of Multicultural Affairs Director Chad Williams on November 5 to again pressure the university into cutting ties with Trump, recalling the institution’s goal to end racism on its campus.
“It is hypocritical and alarmingly tone deaf for Lehigh University to dedicate itself to becoming an anti-racist institution while also publicly showing its support for the rampant white supremacy and outright xenophobia displayed by the current U.S. President Donald Trump,” the petition read.
However, now that the much-awaited decision has been made, students and faculty members alike are placated. Jeremy Littau, a journalism professor at the university, celebrated the result on Twitter.
Folks, this is a big deal as far as our community is concerned. After FIVE years of pressure from our faculty, staff, students and alumni, the Lehigh Board of Trustees finally did the right thing and revoked Donald Trump’s honorary degree. https://t.co/LzavHqHSI1
— Dr. Jeremy Littau (@JeremyLittau) January 8, 2021
Wagner College has followed Lehigh’s example, revoking the honorary degree it awarded to Trump in 2004. The New York private school announced this decision after platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify banned or suspended the president to help “curb incendiary speech.”
But other politicians who voiced support over the insurrection have faced similar censure. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani also had his honorary degree from Middlebury College taken away.
The official statement from the college stated, “Giuliani spent months peddling false claims of voter fraud. These efforts came to a head on Jan. 6 when Giuliani stood before a crowd of Trump supporters and called for ‘trial by combat,’ provoking a violent insurgence that targeted the Capitol building.”
“This attack on our democratic institutions could not be further misaligned with Middlebury’s values,” the letter read.