Kanye West has been revoked of his honorary doctorate degree, gifted to him in 2015 by the School Of The Art Institute Of Chicago (SAIC), due to his recent outbursts of antisemitism and otherwise offensive comments.
In a letter issued through the school (and first reported on by TMZ), SAIC president Elisa Tenny wrote that West’s degree was rescinded because the board found that “his anti-Black, antisemitic, and incendiary statements, particularly those directed at Black and Jewish communities, are disgusting and condemnable”.
Tenny noted that West had been awarded his degree “in recognition for his artistic accomplishments to that point in time”, however over the seven years since then, his “disturbing behaviors” and “dangerous statements” have crafted an image that “[does] not align” with the school’s “community values”.
She went on to explain that West’s recent stunts – which have included praising Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in an interview with far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones – “have been painful for our entire community and, particularly, for those of us who feel that our identities and life experiences are under attack”.
It’s made explicit in the letter that one’s political leanings are not considered when the SAIC determines who it finds fit to receive an honorary degree. That said, Tenny continued in her letter, West’s “actions do not align with SAIC’s mission and values”, and the school’s decision to rescind his degree came after liaising with “many” students and “conferring with the [school’s] Board of Governors”.
She further elaborated: “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.”
As reported by Artnet, the rescinding of West’s degree comes after a petition was launched by a group of students who’d dubbed themselves ‘Against Hate At SAIC’. In a statement accompanying their petition – which received over 4,000 signatures – the group wrote that “regardless of his contributions prior to the receipt of this award, it is harmful to allow [West] to continue to use the [SAIC] to help legitimize hatred and violence”.
West has not yet responded to his degree being rescinded.
The disgraced rapper made his return to music earlier this week, dropping his first original song in months – which featured lyrics addressing his recent controversies and the ensuing condemnation he faced, as well as a sample of the aforementioned Alex Jones interview – on Thursday (December 7).
West’s focus of late has been occupied by his 2024 presidential campaign, the buzz around which has been kept alight by interviews where he’s espoused antisemitic sentiments and viewpoints aligning with neo-Nazism. In his latest interview – one with far-right commentator Gavin McInnes, sat in on by white supremacist Nick Fuentes – West implored Jewish people to “forgive Hitler” and liked both pornography and abortion to the Holocaust.