- The Washington Times - Friday, May 1, 2015

The president of St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York, will still allow former Mayor Rudy Giuliani to deliver the commencement speech next weekend despite protests by 49 faculty members urging him to rescind the invitation.

Faculty signed a letter dated April 17 saying Mr. Giuliani’s “divisive” rhetoric about President Obama and crime in black communities run contrary to the college’s principles and help foster “an atmosphere of intolerance and insensitivity,” the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported.

“Despite his past leadership record,” the letter read, “in the last decade Mr. Giuliani has unfortunately shrunk to become a highly controversial, divisive ideologue.”

The letter welcomed having Mr. Giuliani speak on campus on a different date as a guest lecturer but took issue with plans to grant him an honorary degree, which is customary for commencement speakers, the Chronicle reported.

“His recent public arguments do not unite, inspire, or challenge us to be our very best community,” the letter read. “We believe that bestowing an honorary degree on Mr. Giuliani, Fisher is in danger of betraying our fundamental campus values.”

The letter cited Mr. Giuliani’s controversial comments from February when he said, “I do not believe the president loves America.” It also took issue with “victim-blaming” and “disparaging” comments made by the mayor about crime in black communities.

In a written response to faculty, college President Donald Bain said he respected their position, but argued that “Dissent, after all, is a healthy component of democracy,” the Chronicle reported.

“I sincerely believe that robust and civil discourse adds richness to our intellectual tradition. So too, however, within the concept of free speech, does our tolerance for differing opinions, even if they may challenge our own,” Mr. Bain wrote.

Mr. Giuliani is expected to speak about his role in the 9/11 recovery,” he continued. “I believe this will be of interest and value to our students. While we intend to continue with the invitation to mayor Giuliani, I am confident that out of respect for our campus community the focus of the ceremony will remain with the graduates. The ceremony is above all else for and about our students and their families.”

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