U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine continues to receive push-back for her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh – this time from alumni and faculty of her alma mater, St. Lawrence University.

According to a CBS News report, more than 1,800 alumni and dozens of faculty members at the small liberal arts university in New York state have signed onto a campaign demanding that university administrators rescind an honorary degree conferred on Collins in 2017. A university official said the school has no plans to do so, however.

Collins, a Republican, received a bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University in 1975 but also holds two honorary degrees from the institution.

One letter circulated in alumni circles said that Collins’ vote in support of Kavanaugh demonstrated a lack of “the integrity and commitment to justice that we expect from the St. Lawrence body,” CBS reported on Tuesday. The letter also called on university officials to rescind the honorary 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.”

Dozens of St. Lawrence University faculty members have reportedly signed onto a separate letter.

Collins’ office declined to comment on the letters on Tuesday.


CBS News quoted a university spokesman, Ryan P. Deuel, as saying St. Lawrence University does not take political positions.

“Throughout its long history, St. Lawrence University has never rescinded any earned or honorary degree, and it has no intention of doing so in this situation,” Deuel told the network.

As a swing vote on the Kavanaugh nomination, Collins was the target of intense pressure for weeks from constituents and interest groups as well as protests in Maine and Washington, D.C.

Collins ultimately supported the nominee after she said an additional FBI investigation into allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when they were both in high school failed to produce any additional corroborating evidence. Explaining her vote in a 40-minute speech watched around the nation, Collins said that while she believed Kavanaugh’s accuser was a victim of sexual assault, she said the lack of evidence should not keep Kavanaugh from the court given the country’s long-standing tradition of a presumption of innocence.

Since the vote, Collins has said she’s heard from many constituents in Maine who supported her decision. But a liberal crowdfunding site says it has raised more than $3.7 million to support a future Democratic opponent to Collins in 2020, and on Monday police and federal investigators responded to her Bangor home after she received a letter claiming it was laced with the deadly toxin ricin. An initial investigation found no threat, however.

One St. Lawrence alumna involved in the effort to rescind the honorary degree is Portland resident Kate Byrne. A 2006 graduate of the university, Byrne was among the dozens of Maine women who traveled to Washington, D.C., the week of the Kavanaugh vote in hopes to persuading Collins to vote against the nominee. She was among a group that met with Collins’ staff while in D.C. but not with the senator herself.

On Tuesday, Byrne said she was disappointed and frustrated the university did not plan to rescind the honorary degree given the school’s intense focus on addressing sexual assault. Byrne said she did not believe Collins was “supporting sexual assault survivors at all” by questioning Christine Blasey Ford’s account of what happened that night when she and Kavanaugh were at a high school party.

“St. Lawrence wants to be better. We are already a ground-breaking university in terms of respect and support for sexual assault victims and survivors,” Byrne said. “That’s my school. My school is the sort where we are always encouraging folks to come forth and speak their truth.”

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