cosby

Philadelphia Native and honory graduate of Penn, Bill Cosby, allegedly committed sexual assualt during Penn Relays. | Courtesy of The World Affairs Council/Creative Commons

Penn continues to stay silent on whether it will revoke entertainer Bill Cosby's honorary degree.

When contacted today, Vice President for University Communications Steve MacCarthy said there is "nothing I am willing to offer on the subject right now."

Cosby, 77, has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 50 women, and some students have called for the University to revoke the honorary Doctor of Laws degree he received in 1990 as a result. 

One accuser, Donna Barrett, said in a press conference last week that Cosby groped her while she was officiating the Penn Relays in 2004 at Franklin Field.

"Hey, back that thing up here, girl, back it on up!" Cosby reportedly said while pressing Barrett toward his body. She spoke to other officials at the Penn Relays about the incident, "but no one knew what to do," she said at the press conference.

Cosby has been an honorary race starter and even filmed an episode of "The Cosby Show" at the famous track meet in 1986.

Penn Athletics confirmed to The Daily Pennsylvanian in December that they have no official relationship with Cosby, but they acknowledged paying him for a stand-up comedy set in 2013 after the men's basketball team's season opener against Temple University at the Palestra. 

Among multiple endowed professorships and programs, Cosby has received almost 60 honorary degrees. On Tuesday, Muhlenberg College became the latest school to revoke Cosby's honorary degree, a decision voted into effect by the college's Board of Trustees last week.

“Cosby’s behavior violates the ethics, character and highest aspirations of this college community," Richard C. Crist Jr., chair of the board, said in the announcement.

At least 11 other schools have revoked Cosby’s honorary degrees: Springfield College, Franklin & Marshall, Tufts, Goucher, Lehigh, Fordham, Marquette, Baylor, Amherst, Wilkes University (Pa.) and Brown. Cosby resigned last year from the board of trustees of his undergraduate alma mater, Temple University. The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he earned master's and doctorate degrees in education, also cut ties with him.

Some schools, including Brown, have pointed out that the accusations against Cosby come at a time of great concern over campus sexual assault. “It is particularly troubling as our university community continues to confront the very real challenges of sexual violence on our campus and in society at large,” Brown President Christina Paxson said in a campus-wide email on Sept. 28, announcing Cosby’s degree would be revoked.

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