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Susan Collins’ Alma Mater Want Her Honorary Doctorate Rescinded



Alumni and faculty from a small upstate New York university want to see Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) face consequences for her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh earlier this month.

The former students and faculty are hoping to punish Collins in a symbolic way: by demanding St. Lawrence University, located in Canton, New York, rescind her honorary doctorate she received last year. More than 1,800 alumni and dozens of faculty members have signed onto a letter requesting such action be taken.

The university, with a modest 2,400 undergrad students currently registered for classes, bestowed an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters to Collins in 2017, in part due to her showing independence and reasoned thinking against her own party when the GOP had tried to tear apart the Affordable Care Act, according to reporting from CBS News. Collins cast one of a few Republican votes against the bill in the Senate.

But her recent vote in favor of Kavanaugh, who had faced accusations of sexually assaulting women in his younger years, warrants the revocation of her honorary degree, the letter signers said.

Collins “lack[s] the integrity and commitment to justice that we expect from the St. Lawrence body,” the letter from alumni stated. SLU should revoke the degree “in support of truth and for all of the victims of sexual assault and violence, of which many of her fellow alumni and students have suffered.”

In a separate letter signed by faculty, staff at SLU said that they were prompted not by partisan politics, but by a call to eradicate “attitudes and behavior that normalize and condone sexual assault.”‘

“While our campus has come a long way in the years since Senator Collins was a student here to educate the campus population about sexual assault and harassment, and to adjudicate it fairly when it happens, we still have much hard work before us in and outside of the classroom.”

Collins has received two honorary degrees from SLU, and graduated from the university in 1975. The letter writers noted they are only focused on revoking the most recent honorary degree from the sitting senator.

Many criticized Collins for her vote in support of Kavanaugh, which she defended by saying she wasn’t convinced he was guilty of the assaults for which accusers said he had performed. But those who condemned her vote said those accusations, along with other issues, made Kavanaugh a bad nominee, not worth giving a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court.

“Based on his record and views on health care, abortion, and abuse of Presidential powers, Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination should have been rejected on the merits,” Maine’s Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett said earlier in the month. “Now, based on the credible allegations he faces and his recent testimony, it’s become clear that he does not possess the integrity or character to be appointed to a lifetime position as a Justice on our highest court.”