A petition posted to Change.org on December 1 is calling on School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) to withdraw the honorary doctorate given to rapper Kanye West in 2015, Artnet News reported Monday.
The list of losses West has undergone for his recent spate of antisemitic statements is not short: Adidas, Balenciaga and Christie’s have all severed ties with the 2024 presidential hopeful. The loss in revenue from his Adidas deal, which was worth about $1.5 million, severely cut into West’s net worth, leading Forbes to wipe his name from their list of billionaires.
Now, a group called Against Hate at SAIC has posted a petition to put pressure on the school and its president Elissa Tenny to speak out against West’s continuing xenophobic decent. “Kanye West’s hateful speech incites violence and does not represents [sic] the values of our community. The School can and should rescind his Honorary Degree immediately,” the petition reads.
Since it was first posted, the petition has close to 1,250 signatures. Its original goal was 500. West, who now goes simply by “Ye”, was given the honorary doctorate in 2015. At the time, SAIC referred to West as “an advocate for education, and a thinker and maker who often uses his work…to deconstruct stereotypes and spur cultural discourse on important social issues.”
Only the part about spurring discourse remains true. While West has a reputation for bizarre and unpopular comments, including once mentioning that African Americans living through 400 years of slavery sounded “like a choice,” last week he upped the rhetorical ante during an appearance on Alex Jones’s InfoWars by saying “there’s a lot of things I love about Hitler.”
In case his intention wasn’t clear, West then made an appearance on right-wing platform Censored.TV with Gavin McInnes, the founder of the white nationalist group the Proud Boys, according to Rolling Stone, during which West pled with the Jewish people to “forgive Hitler.”
“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,” the petition reads. “This harm impacts the artists, designers and scholars affiliated to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and their values of justice, compassion, and free expression without hatred.”