The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), which is one of the most prestigious art and design colleges in the world, has revoked an honorary doctorate it conferred on Kanye West, CNN reported. The revocation of the honor comes in the wake of the criticism the embattled rapper and fashion designer has faced for making negative comments about Black and Jewish people.
In a statement on Thursday, the college said it “condemns and repudiates Kanye West’s (now know as Ye) anti-Black, antisemitic, racist, and dangerous statements, particularly those directed at Black and Jewish communities.”
“Ye’s actions do not align with SAIC’s mission and values, and we’ve rescinded his honorary degree,” SAIC added. Kanye received an honorary doctorate from the prestigious college in 2015. He was given the honor for his contributions to art and culture. But in the wake of the controversy he stirred through his actions, a group by the name Against Hate at SAIC asked the college to rescind the honor in a petition on Change.org. The group argued that allowing the 45-year-old to hold on to the honorary doctorate was harmful.
“Regardless of his contribution prior to the receipt of this award, it is harmful to allow Ye, as he is presently known, to continue to use the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to help legitimize hatred and violence,” the petition stated. “This harm impacts the artists, designers and scholars affiliated to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and their values of justice, compassion, and free expression without hatred.”
An update on the petition page on Thursday stated that SAIC President Elissa Tenny wrote a letter in which she labeled Kanye’s actions as “disgusting and condemnable.” Tenny also said his comments have been “painful for our entire community.”
“This was a difficult decision to make, and one that has been deliberated thoroughly,” Tenny wrote, adding that in the school’s 80-year history, this is the first time it has revoked a degree.
As previously reported by Face2Face Africa, Kanye’s online behavior has seen notable companies severing their ties with him. He has also lost his status as a billionaire because of the cancellation of his lucrative deal with Adidas. According to Forbes, Kanye’s deal with Adidas accounted for $1.5 billion of his net worth. But the magazine estimates his current net worth to be around $400 million, down from nearly $2 billion.