Chicago Arts School Rescinds Kanye West’s Degree


Kanye West’s honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has been rescinded, and the school’s president condemned the artist’s recent antisemitic and racist statements.

“Ye’s actions do not align with SAIC’s mission and values, and we’ve rescinded his honorary degree,” President Elissa Tenny said in a statement to BuzzFeed News on Thursday. Tenny described the recent comments from the rapper, who recently changed his name to Ye, as “anti-Black, antisemitic, racist, and dangerous, particularly those directed at Black and Jewish communities.”

Ye received his honorary degree in 2015 for his artistic accomplishments at the time.

But after Ye’s series of antisemitic tweets, racist rants, and alleged workplace misconduct, some students at SAIC started a petition for Tenny to rescind his degree, something that had never happened since the school was founded in 1866 as the Chicago Academy of Design.

The petition reached over 4,000 signatures and called out the role the honorary degree played in granting Ye legitimacy at a time when his comments were harming Jews and others.

“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,” the petition reads. “This harm impacts Jews, whose lives are put at direct risk by the mainstreaming of anti-semitic views.”

On Thursday, Tenny sent a letter to faculty announcing the news. The organizers of the petition celebrated the development.

“This is a direct result of your voices: we want to thank every member of the SAIC community who signed, shared, commented, and used your voices to reach out to the School directly,” they wrote. “YOU did it!”

Ye’s antisemitic tweets led to his account being suspended multiple times, most recently when he shared a photo of a Jewish Star of David with a swastika in the middle to promote his presidential campaign.

He’s continued to make other racist statements online and in interviews, and Adidas, which had worked with him since 2013, cut ties on Oct. 25. A month later, the company announced it would investigate the allegations of workplace misconduct against him, which included him showing a pornographic video to executives in a meeting. Rolling Stone last month reported that he also bullied employees and showed explicit material of Kim Kardashian in the workplace.

“We have been and continue to be actively engaged in conversations with our employees about the events that led to our decision to end the partnership,” an Adidas spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “They have our full support, and as we’re working through the details of the termination.”

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