With a hollow commitment to ideology and an inconsistent application of logic, Lehigh University has decided not to rescind Donald Trump’s degree.
In a meeting I had with board secretary Frank Roth and President John Simon, I was told that previously, Bill Cosby’s 1987 degree had been rescinded because he admitted in a sworn testimony to slipping quaaludes to women and assaulting them. This is sound reasoning for rejecting his degree. Similarly, Ivana Trump, Donald Trump’s first wife, testified in a sworn deposition that Donald Trump had raped her. Since that deposition, 15 other women have accused him of sexual assault. Donald Trump’s own words were dug up from the past, bragging about how he gropes women; “Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
A sworn testimony by a victim of assault apparently does not hold the same weight as the sworn testimony of an assaulter for Lehigh. The university wasted little time in 2015 dumping Cosby, one of the few African-Americans to hold an honorary degree from Lehigh. Yet, Ivana’s story had been public since 1993, published in the book “Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump.” The story surfaced again in 2015. However, our society is inclined to dismiss the experiences of women regarding assault, and Lehigh made no move to diverge from that status quo. And it still does not appear to matter.
Shielded by whiteness, power, and wealth, Donald Trump has escaped this situation unscathed. But Lehigh has not. By refusing to rescind this degree, Lehigh offers tacit support to a man who supports censorship against the media; who profiles Mexicans as rapists and criminals; who reluctantly denounces his core support base of white supremacists (and who was endorsed by the KKK); who wants to rid women of their constitutional rights to their reproductive choices; who disrespects and dishonors veterans – both transgender and cisgender; and who has a general disregard for the principles of democracy, ethics, and humanity.
So yes, let us as a university encourage robust debate on whether or not his actions are reprehensible, malicious and cold-hearted. Let us ponder the philosophical implications of a president that does not understand the first amendment. Let us revel in spirited academic discourse on why women just aren’t believed in this country. Let us continue to be blind to the truth.