Student Speak Out at Student Life Council

By Kenneth Iselhart

Recent bias incidents at Rose Hill, along with new changes to Campus Assualt and Relationship Education (CARE), were brought to the forefront of discussion last week at the first Student Life Council (SLC) of the year. These monthly meetings are platforms for students to share their concerns with student organizations and university administration.

Plans to restructure the Core Curriculum in response to the recent bias incidents were announced at the council. “As it’s structured now… you can go through all four years and only take American Literature, American History…and never go beyond those courses,” said Ashley Domagola, FCRH ’16 and president of United Student Government (USG).

Christopher Rodgers, assistant vice president and dean of students, spoke of plans currently underway to include requirements for multiculturalism in the core curriculum. The plans will have to go through many phases of development. “It is long term and [a] very complex process,” said Rodgers.

Dean Rodgers also showed admiration for student groups in handling the wake of the bias incidents. “I want to specifically praise the Jewish Students Association (JSO) and the Black Students Alliance (ASILI.) I think they’ve taken … exactly the kind of tone and approach to the aftermath of this kind of incident that is positive and constructive and I think healing,” he said. Commenting on the open dialogue hosted by ASILI earlier in September, Rodgers said, “There is some deep thinking going on about these issues in the community, and I was quite impressed with that… I think that generates light as opposed to heat around the situations.”

An underlying concern of the SLC was how to sustain “deep thinking” on bias issues all the time, not just when an incident occurs. “When there isn’t an incident, there aren’t as many people looking towards wanting to be engaged with some of these things,” said Juan Carlos Matos, assistant dean and director of the office of multicultural affairs. “I think a part of the challenge is having ongoing conversations.”

Domagola expressed a similar opinion. “It’s very easy to have a discussion in the week after an incident like the ones in Martyrs’, but it’s important to continue the conversation,” she said.

Groups on the board of the SLC discussed the ways they plan to keep this conversation of bias alive. Alanna Nolan, assistant dean for student involvement, mentioned the importance of having a “multi-pronged approach,” in which students are engaged in bias awareness through multiple aspects of student life, such as classroom discussions and programs. She also brought up the Bias Incident Resource Group, which is composed of administrators, whose aim is to “promote an environment of care, inclusion, respect and moral reflection.”

Sarah Horrax, assistant director of leadership and commuter student services, expanded on Nolan’s call for a multi pronged approach in dealing with these issues within the Fordham community. “One of their goals this year is collaboration… especially making connections with Resident Assistants,” said Nolan. The goal is to form a more cohesive bond between residents and commuters. She also mentioned plans of an art exhibit on multiculturalism at Fordham.

The university also plans to keep discussion of bias going through the use of Core programming. Justin Muzzi, assistant director of Residential Life, spoke about how the recent bias incidents have been incorporated into the Civility program. He said the programming confronts students with the question, “What do we do when people act in a way that’s not civil?” The programming “reminds all students that they all play a role in helping to rebuild the community,” said Muzzi. Core programming is mandatory for all freshmen and can therefore reach a large population of students.

In addition to business related to the recent bias incidents, the SLC discussed new changes to CARE. Updated brochures now include a Students’ Bill of Rights, which is required by law for every New York State school. The Students’ Bill of Rights is essentially a guide to sexual misconduct policy and Title IX procedures. More inclusive language is used in the new brochure so that it may serve as a guide for the entire population of students at Fordham. It aims to use gender neutral language and be applicable to both victims and responders of sexual misconduct. The updated brochure can be distinguished by its white cover, as opposed to the older brochure’s maroon cover.

Kimberly Russell, dean of students and director of residential life shared with the SLC that Residential Life appointed Tyler Martins, FCLC ’15, to fill the new position of Graduate Assistant to CARE. Martins will be working with Resident Assistants and holding staff meetings, as well as planning future CARE projects with Residential Life.


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