A group of faculty members at the George Washington University Law school are moving to rescind Attorney General William Barr’s honorary degree and to have his name removed from the Dean’s Suite all because they are politically opposed to President Donald Trump, according to three concerned GW Law students who spoke to this reporter on the condition of anonymity.
The Daily Beast first reported that faculty members were weighing the decision, but their sources signaled that they weren’t going to move forward “for now.”
However, the students, who spoke via phone to this reporter, confirmed they had knowledge of a “secret meeting” that took place between Law school faculty members and that a final vote on the decision is set for this Thursday, June 11. The action by faculty came shortly after Barr’s meeting with President Trump last week and the Park Police’s actions in clearing Lafayette Park in front of the White House. Barr had been closely monitoring the protests and violent riots in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd.
Kerri Kupec, the AG’s spokesperson, declined to comment on the matter.
Historically, GW has awarded honorary degrees to a number of prominent global figures and it appears that the distinction has only been taken away from one person, Bill Cosby after he was charged with sexual assault in 2015.
“I heard that the faculty secretly convened to rescind Bill Barr’s honorary degree, and, in that meeting, a faculty member claimed that the majority of students favored the move,” One student told this reporter. “For two years now, I’ve been wanting to host the Attorney General, but for fear of being ‘canceled’ by the students and the faculty and not being able to get a job after law school, I’ve refrained from doing that. It’s shocking to me that I can’t host the U.S. Attorney General who happens to be a GW Law graduate because of this.”
The student added, “Bill Barr has donated so much time and money to our law school and now they’re going to cancel him. What message does this send to our other donors? If you were going to donate money to the Law School, would you do it knowing that one day the school would betray you and ruin your name? They will take your money, they will write your name on the Dean’s Suite and then once they’re done with you, they’ll character assassinate you and throw you in the garbage.”
A second student told this reporter, “This is ridiculous and it doesn’t reflect the desires of the entire student body, including myself. He is a good man and a distinguished alumnus.”
Ten faculty members met last Thursday to request that the Dean’s Office convene for an emergency meeting, according to the students. The Dean’s office fulfilled their request to discuss the proposed move, all within a 24-hour period, which a third student called the swift action “absolutely unprecedented.”
“Faculty meetings at GW never happen this quickly,” the third student explained. “They’re usually at least a few days notice hear and the call to action and the subsequent meeting all happened within 24 hours, which many of the faculty couldn’t even attend it because of the short notice. So basically the only people who attended this meeting are for the most part those that want to take Barr’s name down. It’s like a lynch mob. That’s what this is.”
The student said the faculty believes, “Bill Barr has abused his power and that he’s politicizing the Justice Department, and, therefore, his honorary degree should be revoked and his name should be taken off the Dean’s Suite.”
The late Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is a notable name on the list of the Law School’s honorary degree recipients, despite being charged by international human rights organizations for torturing and repressing his own citizens.
The third student continued, “It’s just ridiculous. It’s literally a lynch mob. They have no facts. They literally are just acting on pure emotion and pure political partisan BS. And the law school and the University have only one time in GW history rescinded an honorary degree. And that was for Bill Cosby. So, basically they are equating the only two-time attorney general with being a sexual predator.”
Barr received his J.D. from GW Law in 1977 and his honorary degree in 1992 when he delivered the school’s commencement speech serving as AG in George H.W. Bush’s administration.
Between 1996 and 2012, he served on the school’s Board of Advisors. In 2005, the School’s Dean asked Barr to head the school’s fundraising campaign. During that time, Barr personally donated to the program. To honor his dedication to the program, the school’s Dean Suite was named after him.
In 2014, Barr was selected to be a member of the Admiral Stockton Society and was given an adjunct faculty position.
In 2015, Barr was appointed to co-teach a constitutional law course.
In 2016, Barr was selected by the university again for the Stockton Society for his lifetime contributions.
In 2017, Barr received the Stockton Guard Alumni Award by The George Washington Law Alumni Association for his extraordinary service to the school, his decorated career, and for his continued support of the school.
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