By Joe Vitale
It was four years ago when my first byline appeared in The Fordham Ram. I had been a student at Fordham for about a week when I explored a rather controversial question: Should wellness resident assistants who are 21 be allowed to consume alcohol? These students were, after all, above the legal drinking age. Still, they were already being held to higher standards given their leadership roles in wellness communities, which required a commitment to living a substance-free lifestyle. Shouldn’t that have been taken into account?
Given it was my first assignment, I took the piece seriously. I arranged interviews with important personnel, including resident assistants and top administrators of the Office of Residential Life. I had a job to do, and I wanted to make a good first impression on the editors.
The article was just one of many pieces I have written during my time at The Fordham Ram. Since then, I have covered everything from conservative politics (“GOP Must Reform Message and Tone for Future”) to the death of DVD rental services (“Blockbuster Checks Out, Memories Return”). I have contributed pieces about serious campus news (“Fordham CFO Steps Down”) and pieces about (arguably) less serious news (“Student Snatches Black Baby Jesus From Nativity Scene in ‘Non-Bias Larceny’”). Over the past three volumes, I have contributed to opinionated editorials weighing in on everything from the heat in Faculty Memorial Hall (“too damn high”) to Fordham’s sustainability (“our efforts can make a difference”).
Few areas of student life, it seems, have escaped my grasp, and not a moment went by when I was not enjoying my time as an editor for this newspaper.
Aside from these small successes, I have encountered my share of challenges. I have had to make tough calls about the paper’s content and even tougher calls about staff appointments. During my time here, however, the biggest challenge I have faced has been this: Balancing The Fordham Ram of yesterday with The Fordham Ram of the future. Over my three volumes here, I have done my best to respect the legacy I was inheriting, but also to do my best to build upon it.
When I first joined the staff, I became a member of a paper almost a century old. Before my first volume, there had already been more than 90 volumes of The Fordham Ram, many members of which had gone on to make notable contributions to the world beyond Fordham. I was entering an institution steeped in tradition, a privilege that called for respect.
But, during my time here, I have learned that change in The Fordham Ram is normal and expected. Through looking at our archives and by way of conversations with alumni, I have learned that if The Fordham Ram has avoided anything, it is stagnation. There have been staff turnovers, design updates and editorial shifts — but it is all of these things that make The Fordham Ram so great. For nearly 100 years, it has served as the Fordham community’s paper of record, but it also has served as opportunity for students to leave their mark on the university.
As I edit the final issue during my time as editor-in-chief, I can proudly say that The Fordham Ram has made significant strides over the past four years. Looking at The Fordham Ram today, it is considerably different from The Fordham Ram that featured my first byline. We have an updated website, a strong social media presence and an improved print design. We have also expanded our news coverage of social issues, from diversity to adjunct wages, and have expanded our opinion and culture sections.
For these reasons (and many, many more), my time at The Fordham Ram has become one of my proudest achievements. That said, I would like to express thanks to all of those who supported me and helped me get to where I am. The list begins with my parents, Joe and Adriane, and my brothers, Nicholas and Christopher.
I also wanted to thank the editors-in-chief before me, Connor Ryan, FCRH ’15, and Kelly Kultys, FCRH ’15, for teaching me how to a run a newspaper. I also want to thank the current executive board members, Katie Meyer, FCRH ’16, Chip Frerich, FCRH ’16, and Sydney Keen, FCRH ’17, for their hard work and dedication to The Fordham Ram. I also want to thank my fellow senior Nicole Horton, FCRH ’16, and my long-time friend and fellow senior, Anthony Pucik, FCRH ‘16.
When my first opinion article went to print, I thought it would go unnoticed. I continued to be under the same impression until last year, when an alumnus told me the piece made quite a stir in the RA community, raising questions about the examples set by wellness RAs.
Four years later, I revisited the piece, somewhat squeamishly. But after a quick skim, I found that my concluding point is still worth considering: that upperclassmen leave an unmistakable impression on underclassmen because they are, as I opted to call them, “the future of the university.”
Today, after my three full volumes at The Fordham Ram, I hope that I have set a valuable example for those who will come after me. The masthead editors of next volume are the future of The Fordham Ram the same way I once was, and so I wish them luck.