By D’Andre Henderson SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) A Syracuse University student started an online petition that calls on the university to award Kevin Richardson of the Central Park Five with an honorary degree.
Jalen Nash, a political science major, created the change.org petition after watching Oprah Winfrey’s Netflix interview following the release of “When They See Us”, a movie based on the five young African American and Hispanic men that were arrested as suspects in the 1989 rape of a white woman jogging in New York’s Central Park.
Kevin Richardson, who was the youngest, told Winfrey that he had the aspiration to attend Syracuse University to play in their band.
Honorary degrees must be first recommended to SU’s University Senate by the Honorary Degree Committee. If the applicant is approved by the Senate it would then be sent to the Board of Trustees and if favored by the board, honorary degrees are awarded at commencement ceremonies.
Syracuse University’s Chair of the Honorary Degree Committee, Professor Christian Day said the committee has not received an online petition in the six years of him being involved with the committee.
“There is a formal process, so even if there is a petition for any particular person that’s signed by a lot of names…. they would still have to go through the process detailed on the Senates website.” said Day.
Standards that can qualify an individual for an honorary degree would include outstanding achievement in a field, humanitarian deeds that affect many people, and being an outstanding model for SU graduates.
“Assuming we get the packet assembled sometime in the fall … mid-winter, if everything was there… we wouldn’t know anything until the Board of Trustees invite someone to campus.”
The petition currently has 5,662 signatures with a goal of only 5,000.