updated 5/23/2005 1:02:16 AM ET 2005-05-23T05:02:16

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani delivered the commencement address Sunday at a school where his selection as graduation speaker touched off angry debate and led to the resignation of the student newspaper’s editor after the paper ran a photo likening Giuliani to Adolf Hitler.

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Most Middlebury College students applauded following Giuliani’s speech, but a small group of students tied red pieces of cloth around their mouths while he spoke.

Cynthia Hernandez, who organized the protest, said although Giuliani’s actions following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were admirable, “the eight years he spent terrorizing the poor, the homeless, the artistic community, the queer community, the minority communities in New York City should not be forgotten.”

Andrea Gissing, editor-in-chief of The Campus newspaper, resigned after the paper ran a retouched photograph in March that appeared at first glance to be Hitler giving the Nazi salute but on closer inspection had Giuliani’s face.

The photo ran next to a column by student Albert “Ben” Gore in which he said that much of the drop in crime in New York during Giuliani’s time as mayor “was due to the overall drop in the use of crack cocaine during the 1990s and not his policies.”

Middlebury President Ron Liebowitz condemned the illustration in a campuswide e-mail in March, saying it reflected “a gross misunderstanding of history, let alone of Mr. Giuliani’s record.”

Giuliani, who received an honorary degree from the college Sunday, did not address the controversy in his remarks, but touched on the Sept. 11 attacks, telling the 544 graduates that the terrorist strikes would ultimately make the country stronger.

“We’ve educated young people like you to understand that the world is complex and difficult,” he said. “But if you can apply a reason, sense, a rationality to it, it’s going to be a much, much better place.”

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