Students Want Degree Back from Zimbabwean Leader Mugabe

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will have his honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts revoked if students have their way. The Undergraduate Student Senate plans to present a request to trustees of the university at their June board meeting.

MugabeMugabe is “far from a person students should emulate” student senator Alex Kulenovic told the Boston Globe. In 1986, when the school awarded him the degree, Mugabe was outspoken against apartheid, but has since “turned his back” on that racial harmony and committed a string of human rights abuses in addition to spearheading the economic corruption that has left Zimbabwe with the highest inflation rate in the world.

The African leader is also well-known for his anti-gay activites and rhetoric. Last year, Mugabe threatened to arrest any clergy caught performing gay marriages in that country, saying “Leave whites to do that.”

Said Michael Thelwell, a professor in the UMass Afro-American studies department who pushed for Mugabe’s honorary degree in ’86: He has degenerated as a political leader and as a human being. They gave it to the Robert Mugabe of the past, who was an inspiring and hopeful figure and a humane political leader at the time. The university has nothing to apologize for in giving a degree to the Robert Mugabe of 20 years ago. And they wouldn’t imagine giving an honorary degree to the Robert Mugabe of today.”

Still, the revocation of the degree could be a challenge as the university has no policy in place to do so.


  1. Brian says

    Thelwell is right. So is ShawnSF. Don’t apologize, but do create a policy that allows the university to sever its relationships with particularly heinous individuals. It’s not like he earned a real degree… it’s an honorarium. Creating a policy regarding the rescinding of those honoraria should take no more than a few lunchtime meetings. (But I work for a university too, and know how long it takes to change policy. Not sure why it takes so long.)

  2. Jack! says

    They have to distance themselves some way from Mugabe. I can’t even imagine the fear LGBT people have living in that country or the violence they face.

  3. Economic Mip says

    It is not just fears by the homosexuals in the nation, but all males. The laws in place are so vague that you can be attacked by police for merely bumping into another man on the street. He does not deserve the honorary degree.

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