Howard University revokes Diddy’s honourary degree

Howard University made a significant announcement on Friday, declaring the revocation of the honourary degree granted to Sean “Diddy” Combs in 2014. Howard also terminated a scholarship program named after the rap icon, and the return of a $1 million donation from him. The decision stemmed from a video capturing Combs engaging in a violent altercation with singer Cassie Ventura in a Los Angeles hotel hallway.

In a statement, the Washington DC-based institution asserted that Combs’s conduct starkly contradicted Howard University’s core values, leading to the withdrawal of its highest honor bestowed upon him. The university reiterated its firm stance against all forms of interpersonal violence.

The announcement regarding Combs, aged 54, adds to the ongoing fallout from the video depicting the assault on Ventura and the subsequent legal actions brought against him.

Combs, who attended Howard for two years before leaving in 1990, had been honored as the commencement speaker and received an honorary doctorate from the historically Black institution in 2014.

In 2016, Combs disclosed a $1 million donation to Howard, intended to establish a scholarship fund benefiting undergraduate business students in need, along with offering internships and mentoring opportunities within his business and entertainment ventures.

However, in the same year, Combs was captured on surveillance cameras assaulting Ventura, his then-girlfriend, at a Los Angeles hotel. Ventura filed a lawsuit in November, alleging rape and severe physical abuse during their relationship, which spanned from 2007 to 2018.

Combs settled Ventura’s lawsuit swiftly after its filing but faced additional legal challenges, including allegations of sexual assault and other instances of physical violence.

In March, federal authorities raided Combs’ properties in Los Angeles and Miami as part of a sex-trafficking investigation. The situation escalated further in mid-May when a video of him assaulting Ventura was released, contradicting his previous denials.

The release of the video prompted Combs to issue a public apology within two days, expressing remorse and attributing his behavior to his “darkest times.”

Following these events, Howard University’s governing board convened for a scheduled meeting, deciding to disaffiliate the university from Combs. This involved rescinding his honorary degree, canceling the scholarship program and returning the donation, as well as terminating a separate 2023 pledge agreement.

The governing board also instructed the removal of Combs’ name from all documents listing honorary degree recipients of Howard University.

Howard’s actions last Friday came shortly after Ventura issued her sole statement on the video, urging belief in victims from the outset.