The GUSA senate unanimously approved a resolution urging the university to revoke the honorary degrees of Cardinals Theodore McCarrick and Donald Wuerl during its Oct. 28 meeting.
The resolution concerned the two former archbishops of Washington, D.C., who have been implicated in the clerical sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church. Both have resigned from their positions but retain their honorary degrees from the university. Other universities, including Fordham and Catholic, have already revoked honorary degrees from McCarrick.
Over 1500 people in the Georgetown community have signed a petition calling for Georgetown to rescind the degrees. Georgetown has never before revoked an honorary degree. This month, the university started a working group among the board of directors to discuss the process.
Senators Saham Ali (COL ’21) and Claire Smith (COL ’19) presented the resolution, and Grace Laria (SFS ’19) and Julie Bevilacqua (COL ’19) aided in the presentation due to their prior work on the issue.
Both Laria and Bevilacqua feel the issue holds important ramifications for the Catholic community. “I do think that Georgetown, especially in the context of a commitment to protecting sexual assault survivors, that that commitment is not credible until they rescind these degrees,” Laria said, stressing that if the degrees were not revoked it would appear as acceptance of the cardinals in the community.
There was no debate on the resolution.
The senate also approved a second slate of executive nominees, including policy chairs for entrepreneurship, mental health, and sustainability. They also approved a number of appointments to external boards, the most contentious of which was the appointment of Senator Harrison Nugent (SFS ’20) and Chad Gasman (COL ’20) to the speech and expression committee.
Questions surrounded the promotion of free speech on campus through the invitation of speakers who promoted potentially offensive and incendiary views.
All nominations were approved unanimously except those two, which were approved by a vote of 23-3.
Senate wide updates included the beginning of a transparency caucus newsletter and senate office hours, as well as a sexual assault and diversity training hosted by the student affairs committee.
Standing committees will meet again this week, and the full senate will convene again on Nov 4.