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Proposal to name Georgetown’s foreign service school after Madeleine Albright stalls amid cancel culture campaign

A proposal to rename Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service after Madeleine Albright has been stalled by a cancel culture campaign that includes a petition, faculty and student complaints, and denouncements of the former secretary of state’s legacy.

Albright, who died in 2022 at the age of 84, served as a professor at the university’s School of Foreign Service since 1982, its website states. In 1997, she became the first female Secretary of State under Democratic President Bill Clinton, and “reinforced the U.S.’s alliances, advocated for democracy and human rights,” it added.

But the name suggestion faces backlash from faculty, who called her foreign policy decisions “devastating” in a petition that has already received 1,300 signatures from professors, students and alumni.

“Albright supported some of the US government’s most devastating interventions in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and South Eastern Europe. The catastrophic impacts on civilian populations continue to be borne down to the present day,” the petition argues.

“When asked many years later to comment on the half a million Iraqi children who died as a consequence of the drastic sanctions imposed on Iraq during her tenure, Madeleine Albright’s answer was ‘the price was worth it.’ These facts are well known among the SFS faculty, students, and alumni, and suggest that a renaming would be met with considerable unease and opposition in the School.”

Georgetown University Student Association also passed a resolution on June 25 opposing the proposal and arguing Father Edmund Walsh should remain the college’s namesake.

Georgetown University’s media relations division has not responded to several requests from The College Fix seeking comment. Albright’s estate also did not respond to requests for comment.

Associate Professor Shareen Joshi, one of the statement’s co-authors, told the Georgetown Voice that “We’re not saying she was a bad person. We’re just saying we are a global school. We want to have a conversation about our identity as a collective of scholars who studied the world.”

Marwa Daoudy, an associate professor in the School of Foreign Service who is against the name proposal and helped organize the protest, wrote on Twitter on June 9: “It’s been less than two days since we issued this statement to reject the proposal to rename the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service (SFS) in honor of Madeleine Albright. It has received +1300 signatures … largely from our great community of SFS alumni and students!”

Asked to weigh in, John Hopkins University research Professor Louis Galambos said cancel culture is never fair to the person who is being judged in hindsight.

“I oppose removing the name because critics today can never experience the decision-making context that Albright did. Nor do they usually try. Or do very well at it when they do try,” he told The College Fix in an email.

The SFS Academic Council issued a statement on Instagram on June 8 demanding the school administration let the students share their opinion on the proposal before taking any final decision.

“We urge the SFS to refrain from final approval of the planned change until all SFS students are granted the opportunity to share their opinions,” it stated.

MORE: Scripps students protest Madeleine Albright as speaker because she’s a ‘white feminist’

IMAGE: Mark Reinstein / Shutterstock

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Lorenzo Prieto -- Johns Hopkins University