Tales of a Weary Senior

Instead of providing certain services for free, Fordham University continues to charge its students exorbitant prices (Courtesy of Julia Comerford).

By Mario Stefanidis

I chose Fordham University to be my alma mater for a number of reasons. The alluring beauty of the campus lends itself to a traditional-style college experience that other Manhattan schools could not offer. I felt that the Jesuit principles underlying the university would translate to a holistic academic experience where I would be treated as an individual who could freely express himself.
These tenets led me to the conclusion that Fordham would give me the greatest return on my investment going forward with my career. The four years have passed, and my calling ended up being finance. I will be graduating with about 500 of my fellow Gabelli students next month near Keating Hall, the building which allured so many of us when we visited the Rose Hill campus for the first time. Short of the charming architecture and manicured landscaping, the university has taken more from me than I have given to it.

Based on the GSB courses I have taken, I can tell you that many have not even remotely contributed towards my understanding of business. I can tell you that I have had more than one class where students had to rally and petition the dean to step in and change things. I have had some classes where about 60-70 percent of the students either dropped the course or never showed up outside of mandatory exams. All these classes came at a cost of about $5,000 each, an amount that can be described by my economics courses as “sunk.”

Being that there is more to a university than just classes, the transgressions do not stop here. This year, I have DJ’ed events on Rose Hill’s campus for Fordham. Months later, despite numerous promises from the leadership at OSI (who made me sign almost a dozen contracts), I have not received any of the money I was promised. In contrast, friends and party-throwers hosting off-campus events I performed at not only paid me promptly, but gave me more than the near free entertainment I provided Fordham.

I am not the only student suffering. Clubs across campus are plagued by shoddy communication and random budgetary transgressions which eat at the funds they need to operate smoothly. It is not the money that counts, but the principle of it all. Fordham has no qualms soliciting me for donations while I am still a student with over $200,000 in debt, but they cannot procure $200 to pay me what I am obligated. If I did not have the $400 needed to partake in the senior festivities with my peers, I would not be going to the Senior Ball or any of the other costly events that are a part of Senior Week.

Even “Parent Appreciation Day” is a for-profit event, clocking in at $80 per person for what is sure to be an event that does not cost Fordham half of the aggregate entry fees. If one cannot afford the $240 for themselves and both their parents, it would appear that they do not appreciate the very people allowing them to attend one of the most expensive universities in the country.

For non-senior readers of this article, think about the money you had to pay for Under the Tent or the “drink tickets” which could easily have been free. Perhaps Rose Hill students are unlikely to know about this, but two years ago Lincoln Center’s Under the Tent was cancelled because it would have been too expensive for the university. This is of course understandable given that, according to Fr. McShane, our endowment is “only” $665 million. This has caused the ranking of Fordham to fall to 60th on U.S. News’s annual report in 2016 from its high at 52nd in 2013. For comparison, the schools Fordham was trying to vie against such as Georgetown and Notre Dame have been rising and are ranked at 21st and 18th respectively.

In light of Fordham’s recent Giving Day campaign, I am unlikely to donate any amount of money to the university in the future. The school has made it clear that the educational attainment of Fordham students is not their top priority, but the façade of the campus is. Looking at the comments on Fordham’s Facebook page related to Giving Day can give one a snapshot into the negative sentiment of the school’s alumni. Why should they donate to the school they entrusted their education with when it continues to underperform? Jennie Ramirez states that “Fordham runs its students like a business,” a sentiment which I am forced to agree with.

I and many fellow seniors have sat idly by while our university has not enforced their commitment to its students. Going forward, we may have to associate with a school that has not given to us as much as we have given to it, financially and academically.  I have been sponsoring a scholarship at my elementary school for the last few years and would have loved to expand this giving to Fordham in the years to come. Instead, I am left with a sour taste in my mouth and the longing for the experience which I was promised four years ago when I first sat in on orientation.

It is only the current students combined with the alumni who can change the future. I am not pessimistic about what Fordham’s future has in store, but it will take the efforts of many of us to impart this sentiment to the administration. Things have to get worse before they get better.

 

Mario Stefanidis, GSB ’17, is a finance major from Douglaston, New York.

There are 10 comments

  1. Shooting Messengers

    You get what you pay for and McShane costs nothing other than enormous opportunity ! His whole goal has been building the Jesuit brand over the university, certain programs he depleted via skimming. He needs replaced and it will cost more than $800k a year to get a real national president, not one from Gonzaga or some silly Jesuit college.

  2. Student

    Greatly written. I completely agree. When McShane proposed that fordham should have 2 billion in endowment and MUCH higher ranks 10 years ago, he obviously failed. I just want McShane out. This school has so much potential

  3. Sad News

    Why would you allow yourself to go into 200k in debt ? One word CUNY. You got sucked into the Fordham narrative which is what they really preach. I mean half the faculty are adjuncts and seriously stressed by the sounds of it. I would have gone to community college and transferred in somewhere. The proof will be in the pudding if you get a decent job. This story I found saddnening knowing what I know about Fordham. I fully hear you on the wasted classes, much of the Gabelli faculty are either long in the tooth or struggle with English, accounting is respectable and could be learn’t anywhere. This is a hard lesson learn’t, enjoy graduation at least.

  4. HS

    200k of debt is never a wise decision, so I wouldn’t begrudge the university for that. Nor does it sound reasonable for the university to pay your entry fees to entertainment events (senior festivities). I’m a senior from a low-income family and have never been to any paid university event, nor do I feel it a necessity.

    That being said, it is ridiculous that they didn’t pay you a shoddy $200 or so for your DJing. And the lousy teaching you mention definitely deserves further cover.

  5. Father Knows Best

    Could not agree more with J.H.B. ” stupid policy decisions have sunk more than one university”, I think Fordham has overly played Jesuit as a brand ! Honestly it makes us all as goody two shoes and that we live on their every word. I completely feel it limits the university. Under President O’Hare it was not as overt and pervasive, he was cool about it and lots of non Catholics attended Fordham at the graduate level. Now graduate school is having declining applications and enrolment, one is perceived value and price but the other is Jesuit overkill. Fordham need to map out a future using NY city as it’s canvas and the world as it’s brush.

  6. Ethan Morris

    Fordham is for profit in certain schools that offset losers. I can state the graduate school of religion is not pouring money into the university yet wields enormous influence! Fordham is in a classic chicken and egg situation, it does not have enough rich alumni to support and build the endowment. Historically going back Fordham was a feeder school especially those from the Bronx, many were first time university attendees in their family. Italians, Irish, Poles to whatever got a crack at a university education often due to proximity. Fordham now has a much broader reach but those immigrants kids didn’t get overly rich, in general those that went on to graduate school at top schools did well, this is reflective in large donations. Fordham was a mediocre commuter school that was a meat and potato type education. On top of that being from Fordham had it’s drawback as it is overly Catholic and it can and did limit certain graduates. A corollary example is Yeshiva, it too has financial issues and fundraising concerns given the religious nature of the institution. Fordham has to ease up on the ”New York’s Jesuit University”, it turns off donors !

    1. J.H.B.

      I don’t think Fordham’s Catholic identity is really a drawback in this regard. As another commenter pointed out, Georgetown has an endowment of $1.5 billion and Notre Dame has an endowment of roughly $10 billion, and both of these (Catholic) universities are more prominent than Fordham, and are internationally noteworthy as well. Image and “facade” should be the last of Fordham’s concerns. The university could easily grow, but first it needs to firmly decide where its future lies and make the hard decisions to get there. Being in New York City is a big advantage, and the steadily growing endowment is also good, as is Fordham’s relative age and prestige, but stupid policy decisions have sunk more than one solid college.

  7. Another Annoyed Student

    It is “only” $665 million… For comparison, Georgetown’s endowment is $1.5 billion and Notre Dame’s is over $10 billion. Even arts organizations like the Metropolitan Museum of art have an endowment of $2 billion. $665 million is not a lot of money at all for a University of our size and caliber. It should also be obvious that Fordham is a non-profit school, thus none of its events are for-profit.

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