The School of the Art Institute of Chicago has rescinded Kanye West’s honorary doctorate degree. The Chicago Sun-Times reported the news comes after members of the SAIC community issued an online petition last Thursday (Dec. 1). Published on change.org, the organizers collected over 1,000 signatures in five days.
“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,” reads the petition, requesting SAIC President Elissa Tenny to immediately take action.
A week after the petition was pushed, the institution announced the “Jesus Walks” rapper would no longer be recognized with the prestigious honor. This renege from SAIC is one of several major losses for West amid the ongoing controversy surrounding his harmful rhetoric.
“The School of the Art Institute of Chicago condemns and repudiates Kanye West’s (now known 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 Ye’s actions do not align with SAIC’s mission and values, and we’ve rescinded his honorary degree,” SAIC officials said in a statement published by the Sun-Times.
“We informed the SAIC community this morning,” confirmed a school spokeswoman directly to the outlet. The online campaign with 4,148 signatures is labeled victorious.
The acclaimed musician was awarded the honorary doctorate degree in 2015.
“This is a Chicago kid from a tough part of town who aspires to go to art school. That’s a great story,” explained Lisa Wainwright to VIBE at the time. Wainwright, a professor in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, served as the Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs at the SAIC. She was a member of the board that awarded West the doctorate.
Wainwright continued, “If Kanye’s on stage getting an honorary doctorate saying art school is important, that’s a message we want to send to our communities, to all communities.”
Seven years ago, the Yeezy designer shared the news himself during an interview with the French program Clique. West has yet to acknowledge losing the honorary doctorate.