Tell Fordham and NYBG to Keep Access Free
This petition made change with 2,721 supporters!
On August 15, Fordham University sent an email to faculty, staff, and students stating, “The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) has informed Fordham that as of September 1, 2018, they can no longer offer complimentary admission to members of the Fordham community.” The email did not offer an explanation for NYBG’s decision, but Vice President of Facilities Mark Valera told the Fordham Ram that the university wanted to “break even” on the overflow parking offered to NYBG. The parking lot has needed repaving due to extensive use, and public safety officers are always on hand to direct NYBG visitors in the lot.
A press release tweeted later that day by NYBG confirmed that the change was in response to Fordham’s decision to charge NYBG for use of the University’s parking lot to accommodate overflow parking. NYBG explicitly states in the press release that they “would be willing to revert to the earlier agreement” where they receive free overflow parking and the Fordham community is allowed free grounds access.
We, the executive boards of various Fordham student groups, are strongly urging Fordham University and NYBG to reach an agreement allowing the Fordham community to maintain free grounds access to the Botanical Gardens.
Our reasoning is as follows:
- Located across the street, the Botanical Gardens is the most accessible green space for Fordham students to walk, run, and enjoy. There is no other major park within walking distance from campus. Runners who are trying to avoid the exhaust, air pollution, and traffic dangers in the Bronx still face the risk and inconvenience of cars and inter-class period congestion on the Rose Hill campus. With its exclusively pedestrian walking and running trails, NYBG offers the safest environment for students to pursue outdoor recreation in the Belmont neighborhood.
- In a borough that has some of the highest asthma rates in the country, access to the Botanical Gardens is not just about leisure -- it’s a public health concern. The physical and psychological effects of having access to fresh air and an old-growth forest are invaluable to faculty, staff, and students who spend the majority of their time working, traveling, and living in New York City. Especially during highly stressful midterms and final seasons, the Botanical Gardens is an indispensable and peaceful respite.
- The Fordham community relies on the Botanical Gardens for educational and club programming: science field trips, meditation and walking programs, trips to see manuscripts at the Metz Library, as well as nature photography and film assignments will all be prohibitively expensive once the new price structure takes effect. For example, the Best Buddies Chapter at Fordham planned to incorporate NYBG into healthy living practices programs with their buddies from the Kingsbridge Community Center. The discounted memberships NYBG and Fordham recommended are up to individual students to purchase, therefore groups would have to either have to fund admission or ask participants to pay for day access themselves.
- In ending the “reciprocal agreement,” we believe that both Fordham and the NYBG are worse off. NYBG may lose access to Fordham’s lot for overflow parking, is losing the revenue from Fordham students who are willing to pay to bring their families on special occasions, students and faculty who buy gifts at NYBG and use the cafe as a meeting spot, and Fordham is losing a huge draw for prospective students and staff.
- The cost of a grounds pass, $40, may be too expensive for some students who are financially independent from their parents, have taken out student loans to finance their education, and need to prioritize buying food, books, rent, plane tickets home, etc. Access to the NYBG is one of the only free options Fordham students have for fun in the Belmont neighborhood. A $40 barrier to entry will discourage both students on a budget and incoming freshman who haven’t experienced the beauty and value of the Gardens.
Finally, the decision to walk away from an agreement with such clear and unparalleled benefits leaves the impression that, despite both parties’ intentions, neither the administration nor NYBG is prioritizing the best interests of the community.
If you believe Fordham and NYBG can and should do better on this very reasonable request, please show your support by signing and sharing this petition.
Fordham Outdoors Club: Kacie Candela (President), Daniel Joy (Vice President), Daisy Bewley (Treasurer), Gabrielle Tam (Secretary), Julia Nelson (Secretary), Savanna Hajdasz (Hiking Leader), Sarah Morrison (Climbing Leader)
United Student Government: Connor Sullivan (Executive President), Kaylee Wong (Executive Vice President)
Commuting Students Association: Vanessa Lisbeth Reyes (President)
Residence Hall Association: Robert Ylagan (President)
Best Buddies Chapter at Fordham (501-c): Danielle Cammarosano (President), Rachel Recher (Vice President), Andrew Seger (Treasurer), Alison Bloss (Secretary), Bella Adams (Friendship Coordinator), Sean McLaughlin (Director of Ops), Anthony Sabia (Host Site Liason)
Polish American Cultural Exchange (P.A.C.E.): Rachel Blackburn (President)
Special Olympics Club: Katelyn Sommers (President)
St. Rose's Garden: Alexandra Sottile, Connor Reynolds, Colleen Burns, Carly Loy, Nic Smith, Blair Brunetti, Caroline Martin, Clare Lewis, Daisy Bewley, Daniel Joseph, Emily Leaman, Julia Reynolds, Kienna Matus, Kira Coleman, Lindsey Register, Meggie Griffin, Molly Brodowski, Wenchao Yao, Beatriz Barraclough-Tan
Students for Environmental Awareness and Justice (SEAJ): Lillian Round (President), Hadley Ankrum (Vice President)
The Theatrical Outreach Program (TOP): Hillary Bocsh (President), Sean Coffey (Vice President), Julia Corbett (Secretary), Simon Rodriguez (Treasurer), Alex Mandalakis (Outreach Coordinator), Annie Young (Dramaturge), Kathryn Murphy (Publicist)
TOP Statement: "The Theatrical Outreach Program would like to firmly stand behind the Outdoors Club in this endeavor to petition Fordham into continuing an agreement with the Botanical Gardens.
Classical Greek theatre was performed in an outdoor amphitheater, with many of the motifs and significant plot points directly related to nature and often designed to explain natural events through performed myths. Nature is inseparable from the history of Western theatre. As the Theatrical Outreach Program, whose mission statement is to continue classical theatre in the Bronx, we value the artistic and intrinsic value of nature just as much now.
It is vital to the student arts community that Fordham continue to allow students access to the Botanical Gardens."
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