Fordham University Resident Students

Fordham University Resident Students

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Fordham Resident Students started this petition to Fordham Residential Life and

We are writing in response to Fordham University’s decision to shut down on-campus housing facilities as part of its decision to move all instruction to an online basis for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. The decision to force students, especially seniors, to leave campus housing in such an abrupt, unceremonious manner causes numerous logistical and financial hardships for many who rely upon on-campus housing as part of their Fordham education.

The decision to close on-campus housing and most university facilities can exacerbate inequality as stated by Harvard Professor of Education, Anthony Jack. For many students on campus, Fordham may be the only place where they have consistent access to a stable environment without worry of disruptions that can impact education. This can be something as basic as access to stable internet connectivity or a quiet space with a desk, which students need to continue online education.

Fordham’s request that students leave for spring break and simply do not come back is based on the assumption that all students leave in the first place, which is fundamentally not true. Many students remain on campus for a variety of reasons, including financial and emotional. There is a large population at Fordham that relies on employment in the Bronx or New York City to finance their education and being forced to move home would hinder their education and career advancement. Despite Fordham’s decision to in effect shut down, that is not the reality of working life in NYC. Furthermore, the home lives of students vary vastly and relationships with families may not be conducive to a learning environment.

Understanding these circumstances, many colleges that have shifted to remote classes have given their students their option to stay, including Northeastern University and Boston University. Many students decided to attend Fordham based on the rich campus life they were promised as part of their education. Not only is that education being sacrificed, but Fordham University is also placing a severe financial and logistical challenge on residential students with no promise of financial support.

Furthermore, Fordham should keep in mind that a large portion of the student population lives in off-campus housing. A simple browse of social media shows one that large numbers of these students intend to return to their apartments after Spring Break to continue their education and their social lives as well as to protect their elderly family members at home. For many of those students, life will continue as normal except for attending physical class. By in effect limiting the lives of a select group of its students, Fordham is discriminating against its residential students.

While the University’s decision affects all class years, it has an especially adverse impact on senior students who were looking forward to their final few months, perhaps the most enjoyable part of college that every student looks forward to and hopes to savor for a lifetime. While off-campus seniors will mostly have the opportunity to make those memories, residential seniors will not. Even more so, seniors are at a pivotal point in their college careers while looking for jobs, studying for major professional exams, applying to graduate school, and so on. Stripping seniors of their residence at Fordham will significantly hinder their progress while moving into the next chapter of their lives. 

Taking into account the health risks, the majority of seniors live in on-campus facilities in singles or perhaps one roommate. They do not use communal bathrooms or regularly access common areas in dorms. Therefore, upperclassmen housing facilities such as Campbell Salice Conley pose a materially lower risk. While the University’s efforts to combat COVID-19 are to be commended, it is important to keep in mind that there are no cases at Fordham. Furthermore, it has been plainly evident that the virus has a materially lower impact on younger age groups (i.e. students) as there has not been a single recorded death of someone below the age of 50 that did not have a pre-existing health condition. By forcing students to go home to their families, they are posing risks to their elderly relatives, who are the blatant vulnerable population. Furthermore, the majority of cases have recovered of their own accord even though a vaccine does not exist. We urge the University to avoid making a blanket statement on a situation that pales in health seriousness to historical and modern health crises including the recent Ebola and SARS crises. According to public officials, it is best compared to the seasonal flu. That being said, we hope it does not severely and disproportionately impact the lives of residential students. 

I urge you to consider all the points made above. All students will be affected by this drastic change but mostly seniors. We are the individuals that deserve to be immersed in our own familial environment to successfully complete the final phase of college. Not only this, but we are in dorms where the risk of spreading the virus is lowest, as students have their own apartments and do not use communal facilities. Fordham has been a school grounded in faith, education, and above all else, opportunity. Stripping seniors of crucial opportunities at this point in our lives is devastating. Please reconsider the decision to move all students out of Fordham residence halls by reflecting on the seniors that Fordham has molded over the past four years and how much this will impact our futures and memories.

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