ST. LOUIS, – Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis has another bone to pick with the University of Missouri, this time for a UM Board of Curators vote expected tomorrow that would rescind an honorary degree from comedian Bill Cosby.
Cosby, acclaimed in the 1980s and 1990s, has faced rape allegations from over 50 women, many of whom say he drugged them before performing unwanted sexual acts on them. Last week, a case brought by one of his victims ended in a mistrial due to a hung jury.
The Board of Curators will vote Friday to rescind the honorary degree given to Cosby in 1999 on the recommendation of UM System President Mun Choi, who assumed office earlier this year.
Curtis believes the university has better things to do with its time than focus on rescinding Cosby’s degree.
“Currently, Bill Cosby technically should be labeled innocent until proven guilty. The attention and resources would be better served focusing on rape culture on campus and how to improve student life,” Curtis said in a statement. “So far, all Dr. Choi has done is force incoming freshmen to live on a campus that has proven not to be safe for women and pushed to get rid of Bill Cosby’s honorary degree. Though getting rid of his degree may be the popular and safe decision right now, it would show much more courage and strength if he dealt with internal issues and worked to make headlines improving campus safety instead.”
In the past, Curtis has criticized the university’s “failure of leadership” during campus protests that received nationwide attention, and recently has criticized the university for its own weaknesses when it comes to combatting sexual assault, especially following a case that happened on the UM-Kansas City campus this past winter.
Mizzou strengthened its Title IX protections in February, after the 2014 investigation into the sexual assault and subsequent suicide of Mizzou swimmer Sasha Menu Correy.