Ivy League students, profs gang up on Republicans

Ivy League students and faculty are demanding the revocation of degrees held by prominent Republicans.

Efforts are aimed at high-ranking Republican officials such as Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Josh Hawley, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, and former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

Thousands of students and alumni at prominent universities are petitioning school leaders to revoke degrees conferred on high-ranking Republican lawmakers. 

Students and alumni of Harvard University are signing a letter, titled, “Revoke Their Degrees,” which asks Harvard’s leadership to take action against Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, and former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany by banning them from campus and stripping them of their degrees. 

The Harvard petition argues that, by contesting Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results, these Republican officials “incited a violent attempt to overthrow the U.S. government.” Harvard University dropped Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) from her role on the university’s Kennedy School advisory committee because she contested the 2020 election results.

A similar petition at Yale Law School demands the revocation of Sen. Josh Hawley’s law degree on the grounds that he sparked the Capitol insurrection by publicly stating his doubts about the integrity of the presidential election. 

[RELATED: Third time’s a charm? Lehigh U. Diversity Office wants to rescind Trump’s honorary degree]

Hawley has been staunchly rebuked by the Stanford University community, from which nearly 9,000 people have signed a petition asking the school to “sever all ties” with him. The petition alleges that Hawley committed “seditious conspiracy” and fomented the riot, though Sen. Hawley condemned the violence from the Senate floor. 

Princeton University students and alumni are petitioning for the school to preemptively ban Cruz from receiving any award or honor from the university in the future and to consider revoking Cruz’s undergraduate degree. The petition presents no evidence to suggest that Cruz somehow obtained his undergraduate degree unethically - only that his later actions do not comport with Princeton’s values. The university has previously honored Cruz with its James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service, though it has announced no plans to invite Cruz to campus or to bestow another honor on him. Like Hawley, Cruz denounced the Capitol riot as “a despicable act of terrorism.” 

[RELATED: Democratic employees at Yale outnumber Republicans more than 9:1] 

It is not unprecedented for a higher education institution to revoke an honorary degree, though doing so is a rare occurrence. Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, rescinded former President Donald Trump’s honorary Doctorate of Business Administration during the 2015 Republican primary, in the wake of statements Trump made surrounding the terrorist attack in San Bernardino. 

Lehigh University and Wagner College both rescinded the former president’s honors following the riot at the Capitol on January 6. But, as reported by Inside Higher Education, Lehigh’s board of trustees had twice previously voted down efforts by faculty members, even before the Jan. 6 riots, to revoke the former president’s honorary degree. 

Such efforts to disassociate from Trump and other Republicans did not start after the Capitol riots on January 6. In August, Campus Reform reported that a group of University of Pennsylvania professors called on the Ivy League school, Trump’s alma mater, to consider revoking Trump’s degree. 

In addition, Campus Reform has for years reported on students and faculty alike seeking to shut down or silence conservative voices on campus they deemed “fascist,” “racist,” “bigoted,” or “xenophobic,” many of them Trump administration officials and other prominent conservatives. 

Furthermore, Cruz, Hawley, and other Republicans who contested the certification of the 2020 election results did so through what many constitutional experts say are the appropriate means. 

Lawmakers from both political parties have contested election results in recent years. 

However, no such petition efforts were set in place to revoke any degrees held by House Democrats who objected to certifying the 2016 presidential election. Rep. Maxine Waters, one of the Democrats who contested Trump’s election in 2016, was subsequently recorded in 2018 encouraging a crowd of supporters to harass Republicans, which Rep. Adriano Espaillat dismissed during a CNN interview as a “side story.” In 2019, Waters received an honorary degree from the University of the District of Columbia. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito