In the wake of Fordham’s most recent student scandals, the open letter to FUEMS and Public Safety that has been shared over 4,000 times online and the racist chants heard at an off-campus house, the Fordham community has received yet another email from the university President shaming those responsible and promising change. I am left wondering if Father McShane’s actions are sufficient in a university community that seems to be falling apart.
I keep comparing Fordham’s situation to two separate incidents that have occurred at universities this year. In the aftermath of a possible racial bias incident at the University of Delaware in September, acting university President Nancy Targett posted a YouTube video inviting the student body to participate in a talk-back session about racial diversity and tolerance on campus. It is a huge juxtaposition to the teeth pulling that the Fordham administration requires before any attempt to connect with student issues.
The recent ousting of the Mizzou president by the student activist society, Concerned Student 1950 also has strong parallels to our situation at Fordham. There has been massive criticism for that movement, but ultimately the students were expressing disapproval with the lack of action and reasonably utilized the power available to them to affect the change they wanted to see at their school. The students were unsatisfied and affected change within the system and now hope that President Tim Wolfe’s replacement will more effectively tackle the persistent problem of racism in the University of Missouri system.
Let me make this especially clear: I am not calling for Father McShane to step down as university president. But in my experience, a Father McShane sighting is like seeing a double rainbow. He is not a visible presence on either the Rose Hill or Lincoln Center campus and I do not feel that there is a clear sense of leadership on our campus. A university president that is barely present at the university is oxymoronic and inefficient and the effects seem to be showing. In our especially unique dual campus set-up and divisive partisan college structure, Fordham might need more involved, active administrative leaders to unite the school in this stressful time.
As Fordham students, it is our responsibility to advocate for the change we want at this school. We cannot take any more of these bias incidents — they are destroying our sense of community and our reputation as a school.
If we want to promote this university as a welcoming, diverse and intellectual community, these incidents cannot continue to occur every few weeks. We are tied to this school for the rest of our lives and it is in our own best interest to see that this culture of passive racism is eliminated as swiftly as possible.
The current administrative strategy of sending reactionary emails after a degrading and disappointing event does not seem to be cutting it. We certainly need a new, more aggressive strategy for combating this problem and if part of that strategy means a new university president, I will welcome that change.
Cate Carrejo, FCRH ’17, is a communication and media studies major from Houston, Texas.