As a result of his callous response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump has lost a lot this week: his chief strategist, his manufacturing council, even one of his evangelical advisers. If a recent college graduate gets her way, Trump might also be losing his honorary degree from Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University.
Earlier this week, 22-year-old Kelly McCoy started a Change.org petition calling on Lehigh University President John D. Simon to revoke the honorary degree that Trump received in 1988 when he delivered a commencement speech to the school’s graduating class.
In her petition, Lee notes that “everything Donald Trump represents” goes against the university’s current values, specifically those outlined in the “Principles of Our Equitable Community,” a document that was drafted in 2011 that “contains guidelines for making Lehigh a more diverse and welcoming atmosphere for its students.”
‘These principles are antithetical to the behaviors and statements of Donald Trump during his presidency and on the campaign trail. Allowing Donald Trump to retain his honorary degree represents a hollow and superficial ideological commitment from Lehigh to these principles.’
She goes onto describe some of the guidelines listed in the document and how Trump measures up against them. One of the many principles that McCoy believes Trump violates is the school’s recognition and celebration of its “diverse community.”
McCoy says in the petition about Trump’s approach to diversity:
‘From promising to build a wall to keep out immigrants from Mexico, to attempting to institute a travel ban on Muslim-majority countries, to want transgender individuals removed from the military, Trump has not shown a track record of respect and admiration for the many identities that make America whole.’
At the time of this writing, McCoy’s petition had received 24,491 of the 25,000 signatures it needs.
According to an article published by The Morning Call, a local Pennsylvania newspaper, President McCall received the petition earlier this week and has already sent it to the Board of Trustees. The board may discuss the petition at its next meeting, which is scheduled to take place between October 25 and October 27.
In an interview with The Morning McCall, McCoy said about the petition:
‘Whatever I say is associated with my identity as a Lehigh graduate. Trump is also essentially an ambassador for Lehigh University but his values don’t represent Lehigh.’
If Trump does end up losing his degree from Lehigh, it would not the first one he’s had revoked since he entered the political arena. In 2015, Robert Gordon University in Scotland took away his degree after he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
At the time, Robert Gordon said about this decision:
‘In the course of the current U.S. election campaign, Mr. Trump has made a number of statements that are wholly incompatible with the ethos and values of the university. The university has therefore decided to revoke its award of the honorary degree.’
Lehigh has taken away honorary degrees before as well. In 2015, the university took away Bill Cosby’s degree after he was accused of sexual assault. At the time, Lehigh said that Cosby’s alleged behavior was “inconsistent with the character and high standards” expected of honorees.
Featured image via OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images.