The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has rescinded the honorary degree it bestowed on Kanye West.
The school made a statement regarding Kanye’s recent string of antisemitic remarks. “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,” the statement begins.
“Ye’s actions do not align with SAIC’s mission and values, and we’ve rescinded his honorary degree,” the statement concludes. Kanye West was awarded the honorary doctorate in 2015 in recognition of his contributions to art and culture. Following some of the statements Kanye made over the past few weeks, a group called Against Hate at SAIC launched a Change.org petition to see the rapper’s degree rescinded.
“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 statement on that petition reads. “This harm impacts the artists, designers, and scholars affiliated with the SAIC and their values of justice, compassion, and free expression without hatred.”
SAIC President Elissa Tenny wrote in a letter that West’s remarks are “disgusting and condemnable” and have been “painful for our entire community. This was a difficult decision to make, and one that has been deliberated thoroughly,” she adds. This is the first time in the school’s 80-year history that a degree has been revoked from a recipient.
Representatives for Kanye West have not responded to requests for comment. In West’s old stomping ground of Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, a mural celebrating the rapper was recently painted over. Since imploding after his wife filed for divorce, Kanye West has lost several lucrative fashion deals with giants like Adidas and Gap.