By Madison Weber ’23, Staff Writer and Social Media Editor
St. John Fisher College College Board of Trustees announced on Friday that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will keep his honorary degree. According to school officials, the decision to rescind an honorary degree requires a two-thirds majority of the entire Board and that was not achieved.
In a statement, school officials said “no further action will be taken.”
In January, the St. John Fisher College Board of Trustees was made aware of requests to rescind the honorary degree that the College bestowed upon former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 2015 for his leadership during the 9/11 tragedy.
The College prides itself on respecting the opinions expressed by all inside and outside of the Fisher community. The matter of rescinding an honorary degree is within the purview of the College’s Board of Trustees, as is the authority to grant the distinction.
After extensive Board deliberations, the Board today voted on whether to rescind the honorary degree. A decision either to grant an honorary degree, or rescind an honorary degree, requires a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the entire Board, which was not achieved. No further action will be taken.
Starting in January, as a result of the 2021 Capital Riots there was public outcry for the college to rescind the honorary doctoral degree awarded to Giuliani in 2015. This came as a result of Giuliani, lawyer for former President Donald Trump, calling for “trial by combat” as a way to protest 2021 election results.
A petition was started shortly after that stated Giuliani’s “statements and actions related to the 2020 United States Presidential election, its aftermath, and the ongoing COVID epidemic do not reflect the mission and values of this institution.” Those involved in the petition went on to cite several instances of this, including claiming false voter fraud, ignoring health guidelines and inciting violence. The petition has nearly 450 signatures.
On Febuary 19, a letter was sent by 15 prior class and SGA presidents to the Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees expressing their desire for rescinding Giuliani’s degree. This letter touched on the idea that “Those who do not reflect the values and the mission of the institution should no longer be entitled to hold the honorary degrees granted to them.” It went on to refer to Giuliani’s words as “antithetical to everything St. John Fisher College espouses.”
Dr. James Bowers awarded Giulani with the degree in 2015, but has since stated that “Those who do not reflect the values and the mission of the institution should no longer be entitled to hold the honorary degrees granted to them.” Prior to a decision being made, Bowers referred to a failure to rescind as “tacit complicity” and would result in the institution being on the wrong side of history.
According to Forbes, Middlebury College, a liberal arts school in Vermont, took away the honorary degree it awarded Giuliani in 2005. The board of trustees at Lehigh University, a small school in Pennsylvania, voted to rescind the honorary degree it awarded to Trump in 1988. The board of trustees for Wagner University, a private school located in Staten Island, New York, followed suit, voting to strip Trump of the honorary degree it awarded the president in 2004.