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Student leaders call for Syracuse University to revoke Rudy Giuliani’s honorary degree

Leaders of two student organizations at Syracuse University are pushing for the college to rescind politician and attorney Rudy Giuliani’s honorary doctorate from SU College of Law.

Mazzy Kaila, executive president of Syracuse University’s Student Bar Association, and David Bruen, president of the Student Association, are heading the initiative to revoke Giuliani’s degree, citing his past policies as mayor of New York City and his campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“Mr. Giuliani implemented harmful policies as Mayor and has undermined our elections as a lawyer. Syracuse University should not continue to honor him with a degree of law,” Bruen told The College Fix in an email Nov. 9.

The undertaking began after Bruen discovered the degree as he examined a list of past SU commencement speakers before Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recent visit to the university.

The Student Association is working on a resolution to call for Giuliani’s degree to be rescinded, Bruen said in the email.

The college did not respond to inquiries from The College Fix for comment on whether they would investigate the matter or what the process would look like.

Giuliani received his honorary doctorate from SU’s College of Law in 1989 after his term as attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The university invited Giuliani back as commencement speaker in 2002, where he was met with student protests against policing practices implemented during his term as mayor of New York City following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Giuliani again faced backlash more recently over his participation in a campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election, prompting the New York state appellate court to suspend his law license.

Two other universities also responded to the controversy by revoking honorary degrees previously awarded to Giuliani.

Middlebury College rescinded a degree granted to Giuliani in 2005 shortly after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

President Lauri Patton wrote on the school’s Facebook page that Giuliani contributed to “fomenting the violent uprising against our nation’s Capitol building on January 6, 2021—an insurrection against democracy itself.”

In August, Drexel University rescinded a 2009 Doctor of Law degree due to Giuliani’s “repeated unfounded claims of widespread election fraud,” according to a president’s message published by the university.

The statement also asserted that Giuliani’s actions “significantly contributed to undermining the public’s faith in our democratic institutions and in the integrity of our judicial system, and stand in clear opposition to Drexel’s values.”

Students promoting the cause at Syracuse University say they hope to join the other two colleges in revoking Giuliani’s degree. Bruen called the present endeavor “fair and valid” in his email to The College Fix, stating that it was not an example of cancel culture.

“I’ll ask this: ‘was it cancel culture when Mr. Giuliani’s law license was suspended? Was it cancel culture when Drexel and Middlebury revoked his honorary degrees?’ The short answer is no, they were not,” Bruen said in the email.

Bruen said many other students and faculty likely back the endeavor, although the Student Association is still assessing the degree to which they do. He said he expects the amount of support to become more clear with the release of the upcoming student government resolution.

MORE: Check out The College Fix’s Campus Cancel Culture Database!

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About the Author
Margaret Peppiatt - Franciscan University of Steubenville