A protest at Cunniffe House yesterday escalated as Public Safety met protesters who attempted to enter the building. Accounts of the incident differ. Members of both Fordham Public Safety and Fordham Students United (FSU) report that they sustained injuries.
Various administrative offices reside in Cunniffe House, including Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university. In a statement to The Fordham Ram, FSU said that the goal of yesterday’s protest was to speak to McShane directly.
“Students staged a peaceful protest in order to demand that contingent faculty have a voice on campus,” said the FSU statement. “In the process of attempting to get answers from Father McShane (which has continually been denied) campus security used brutal force on multiple students to deny access inside the building.”
Bob Howe, director of communications for the university, said that the protest was not peaceful in nature. He said “demonstrators vigorously attempted to physically remove a supervisor from in front of the door” after public safety’s attempt to barricade the entrance of the building.
In an emailed statement to The Fordham Ram, Howe said protesters “refused multiple commands from Public Safety supervisors to leave the entrance. Public Safety eventually cleared the protesters from the foyer to the porch of Cunniffe House, where they were allowed to continue their protest.”
In his statement, Howe also said that “no protesters were injured.”
FSU and protest members reported otherwise.
Sarah Lopez, FCRH ’17, said that she was the victim of force by a Public Safety official during her attempt to enter Cunniffe House. In a statement to The Fordham Ram, Lopez described the situation.
Upon entering the building’s vestibule, Lopez said that there was an immediate scuffle as Public Safety crowded the area in efforts to remove the protesters from the building.
“I saw a space by the door, so I approached it,” said Lopez. She said she then attempted to grab the handle of the door that led directly into Cunniffe. “[An] official moved back when he noticed this and pinned me against the wall. Half of my body was crushed under his.”
Lopez reported being pinned between a the public safety official and a glass door.
“The man would not move, and I could not release the door handle,” said Lopez. “I began to hyperventilate and cry. I could not breathe because of the weight on my chest coupled with what I suspect was a panic attack.”
Lopez also said that she did not see any Public Safety officials get injured.
However, Public Safety reported Public Safety official Dan Kiely, director of security at Rose Hill, was injured during the incident. He sustained a gash on his hand and was transported to Montefiore hospital so that he may receive stitches, according to John Carroll, associate vice president of Safety and Security.
Following the protest, Andrew Clark, director of the Faculty Salary and Benefits Committee, thanked the student protestors for their commitment. In an email addressed to students, faculty, staff and alumni, Clark said that “I would like to thank the students for their leadership and boldness to act for justice, a value we all share, cherish and nurture at this Jesuit institution.”
“Although I am still unaware of the details of what transpired yesterday at the protest and I do not condone violence from any party, I support the efforts of the students to raise labor justice issues on campus, to speak forcefully, and to demand to be heard by the President and others in power,” said Clark.
The protest began at Walsh Library, where Fordham students and faculty members joined together to condemn administration’s recent stance on faculty healthcare, adjunct faculty and salary disparities. Protesters then marched to Cunniffe House, where they were met by Public Safety.
Lopez, seen above, reports that she was pinned to a wall by a Fordham Public Safety officer. (Andrea Garcia/The Fordham Ram)
“The public safety officer pinned himself against the door to keep the door shut,” said Bass. “In the process, the student behind him was pinned against the wall. It was very clear that she was purposely being pressed against the wall. She was trying to get out and kept insisting that it was getting difficult to breathe.” The student victim’s name and injuries were not given, but a video was posted to FSU’s Facebook page shortly after the incident took place.
Public Safety reported Public Safety officer Dan Kiely, director of security at Rose Hill, was injured during the incident. He sustained a gash on his hand was transported to Montefiore hospital so that he may receive stitches, according to John Carroll, associate vice president of Safety and Security.
Officer Dan Kiely, seen above, was injured during the protest, according to Carrol. (Victor Ordonez/The Fordham Ram)
The protest began at Walsh Library, where Fordham students and faculty joined together to condemn administration’s recent stance on faculty healthcare, adjunct faculty, and salary disparities. Protesters then marched to Cunniffe House, where they were met by Public Safety.
The protesters did not seek nor receive permission to hold a protest on campus, according to FSU member Clair del Sorbo, FCRH ’19. In order to hold a protest, students must request to be assigned space to occupy through the established University procedures. These attributes are necessary to hold an on-campus protest according to Fordham’s Student Handbook.
Note: An earlier version of this article said FSU did not receive permission to hold a demonstration on campus. It has been corrected to say the did not seek permission, nor did they receive it.