School of the Art Institute of Chicago Revokes Kanye West’s Honorary Degree

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago announced Thursday that it is rescinding an honorary degree that it awarded to rapper and fashion mogul Kanye West in 2015.

“The School of the Art Institute of Chicago 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,” the institution said in a statement. “Ye’s actions do not align with SAIC’s mission and values, and we’ve rescinded his honorary degree.”

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The rescinded degree is the latest consequence that West has faced since making a series of antisemitic statements both on social media and in interviews with Fox News, Infowars, and other outlets. Over the last several months, Balenciaga, Christie’s, and, most notably, Adidas, with whom West had a $1.5 billion deal, have all severed ties. After those incidents, Forbes dropped West from their billionaire list, and his net worth is now estimated at $400 million.

SAIC’s decision comes after a group called Against Hate at SAIC posted a petition on December 1 calling on the school rescind the degree. “Kanye West’s hateful speech incites violence and does not represents [sic] the values of our community. The School can and should rescind his Honorary Degree immediately,” the petition reads.

Since it was first posted, the petition has over 4,000 signatures. Its original goal was 500. When West’s honorary degree was first awarded, SAIC referred to him as “an advocate for education, and a thinker and maker who often uses his work…to deconstruct stereotypes and spur cultural discourse on important social issues.”

Though West has long had a reputation for bizarre and unpopular comments, including once mentioning that African Americans living through 400 years of slavery sounded “like a choice,” last week he upped the rhetorical ante during an appearance on Alex Jones’s InfoWars by saying “there’s a lot of things I love about Hitler.”

In case his intention wasn’t clear, West then made an appearance on right-wing platform Censored.TV with Gavin McInnes, the founder of the white nationalist group the Proud Boys, according to Rolling Stoneduring which West pled with the Jewish people to “forgive Hitler.”

“Regardless of his contributions prior to 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 reads. “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.”


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