Harvard students pan former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio: 'Politically opportunistic'

·3 min read

Former Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio was handed a coveted fellowship at Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP) for fall 2022.

Students on campus are not thrilled with the politician.

Banners hang outside Memorial Church on the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 4, 2009. <span class="copyright">Michael Fein/Bloomberg via Getty Images</span>
Banners hang outside Memorial Church on the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 4, 2009. Michael Fein/Bloomberg via Getty Images

"Honestly, I don’t have a great impression of de Blasio," Owen Wiese, Class of 2025, told the student-run Harvard Independent.

"I think he irked a lot of New Yorkers by campaigning for president in other states when NYC was dealing with a lot of problems. He generally was perceived as politically opportunistic and someone who changed his opinions based on who he was talking to."

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De Blasio was named a Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics visiting fellow, a position meant to bring "distinguished veterans of public life for a short yet comprehensive stay at the Institute of Politics."

De Blasio emerges from a voting booth after voting in the New York City mayoral primary Sept. 10, 2013, in Brooklyn. <span class="copyright">Spencer Platt/Getty Images</span>
De Blasio emerges from a voting booth after voting in the New York City mayoral primary Sept. 10, 2013, in Brooklyn. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

"We are excited to welcome Mayor de Blasio to campus as we look for pathways forward on the challenges facing our democracy," Institute of Politics Interim Director Setti Warren said in a press release.

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"I am happy to join the IOP to help inspire our nation’s next generation of leaders to find ways to serve in politics and public service and to build a government that serves working people," de Blasio said at the time of his appointment.

Harvard's seal sits atop a gate to the athletic fields at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 21, 2009. <span class="copyright">REUTERS/Brian Snyder</span>
Harvard's seal sits atop a gate to the athletic fields at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 21, 2009. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Not all feedback has been negative. Some students told the Harvard Independent they see value in de Blasio's fellowship regardless of his political history.

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"As a New Yorker who watched him try to will himself into a higher job than mayor for years, it’s not that surprising he would want to be involved with Harvard somehow," Jack Silvers of the Class of 2025 said. "His past is complicated, and who knows what his legacy will be like. I hope students engage with his study group. I just worry about the stigma from his presidential run and antics as mayor."

Former Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio speaks during the opening of a vaccination center for Broadway workers in Times Square April 12, 2021, in New York City. <span class="copyright">Noam Galai/Getty Images</span>
Former Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio speaks during the opening of a vaccination center for Broadway workers in Times Square April 12, 2021, in New York City. Noam Galai/Getty Images

The former New York City mayor's appointment as a visiting fellow within the program comes after a short-lived campaign for New York's 10th Congressional District. He dropped out in June.

"Whether or not  de Blasio was a good mayor, he can still be a valuable fellow," said Lucas Gazianis of the Class of 2024. "Anyone who leads New York City has an array of highly unique experiences, and as long as de Blasio is a patient and candid teacher, students will likely get a lot out of his fellowship."