By Helen Stevenson
The Fordham Ram compiled some of last semester’s biggest community events to make sure all of those new to the school are up-to-date on anything your peers might be talking about.
The Ram Investigates Murray-Weigel and Clerical Abuse
In November, The Fordham Ram reported that a priest credibly accused of sexual misconduct lived and died at Murray-Weigel Hall, the Jesuit infirmary and retirement home at the university. In light of Jesuit provinces across the country releasing lists of priests with credible allegations of sexual misconduct, the university sent an email detailing the names of these priests with connections to the university. While none of the priests listed were affiliated with the university or resided in Murray-Weigel at the time of the January 2019 email, some of the abuse allegedly happened while the priests were employed by the university and Fordham Preparatory School.
In a series of investigative pieces, The Ram found there were 10 priests who have lived at Murray-Weigel over the years with credible accusations of sexual misconduct of a minor brought against them, some of whom were still living at Murray-Weigel last school year. The university assured that the priests were removed from Murray-Weigel, and in the process, students who regularly volunteered there were temporarily barred from entering the retirement home. Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, reversed the bar on student volunteering based on the assurance that all Jesuits living in Murray-Weigel were not “restricted” and confirmed there would be no restricted Jesuits living in Murray-Weigel in the future.
University Confirms: Cohen Threatened Legal Action if Trump’s Grades Revealed
Michael Cohen, former lawyer and longtime advisor of President Donald Trump, testified that President Donald Trump instructed him to write letters to his former high school, colleges and The College Board before the House Oversight committee. The documents Cohen submitted to Congress include a 2015 letter addressed to Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, indicating legal action would be taken should the president’s academic records be released.
Bob Howe, director of communications for the university, confirmed Cohen’s allegation in a statement to The Fordham Ram, and said the university could not/would not reveal any student’s private academic records.
Fordham Removes Spring Weekend Headliners
Spring Weekend, hosted by Campus Activities Board (CAB), is arguably the biggest on-campus event of the year and includes a free concert for students. Last semester, Fordham canceled two of its headliners, rappers Soulja Boy and Sean Kingston.
CAB’s former president Kathryn Teaney, FCRH ’19, and the Office of Student Involvement decided to remove Soulja Boy from the lineup on March 27 following his arrest for a weapons violation. According to former Spring Weekend Concert co-chairs, Madeline Cialani, FCRH ’20, and Elizabeth Roberts, FCRH ’19, the decision to remove Soulja Boy was made without their approval.
On April 24, Dean of Students Christopher Rogers canceled Sean Kingston’s performance after student groups expressed concerns over a 2013 gang-rape allegation against Kingston. An Instagram account under the username @studentsagainstsean followed a number of Fordham students, demanding Kingston’s removal, and the United Student Government (USG) later supported the student group in their protest. Rodgers canceled the headliner three days before the annual concert.
Spring Weekend Lineup
CAB hosted Whethan, Bryce Vine and Fordham’s Battle of the Bands winner, The Usual, for its annual Spring Weekend concert on Saturday, April 27. Despite the canceled headliners and cold weather, students gathered in large numbers on Martyr’s Lawn for the concert.
Ellie Kemper, known for her roles in “The Office” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” spoke to Fordham students about her life before and in Hollywood for the Speaker Series event on Thursday, April 25.
The weekend’s final event was the annual comedy show on Sunday, April 28. Student comedians Erin Kiernan, FCRH ’19, and Andy Vega, FCRH ’21, opened the show to “roars of laughter and applause.” Alex Moffat and Mikey Day, two “Saturday Night Live” actors, followed. Although some of their jokes failed to land, their sets were generally well-received and it was a successful night overall.
University Names New Dean of FCLC and Provost
Fordham welcomed two key administrators last year, both of whom started in their position this summer.
The university named Dennis C. Jacobs, Ph.D., as its new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs on January 14. Jacobs has served as acting provost since July 1 and was picked for the role by the Provostial Search Committee in partnership with the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. Jacobs has served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Santa Clara University since 2011.
Laura Auricchio, Ph.D., was appointed as Dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) and started in her role on August 1. Auricchio is the first female dean of FCLC. She previously served as vice provost for curriculum and learning and dean within the Schools of Public Engagement at The New School. Auricchio earned two doctorates in Art History and Archaeology from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.
Students Win Tinder #SwipeOff Competition
Fordham students won a national #SwipeOff competition on the dating app Tinder, winning a free concert from Juice WRLD and Charli XCX. Tinder hosted the concert at New York Expo Center, just a few miles from the university.
According to Lauren Probyn, senior marketing director at Tinder, the win meant Fordham students had garnered the greatest number of “matches” using the Tinder University service within the application. Although she was unable to disclose the exact number of matches, Probyn said they were impressed by the Fordham communities’ dedication.
FDM Breaks Fundraising Record
Fordham Dance Marathon (FDM) is a student-run organization that raises funds for the Andrew McDonough Be Positive (B+) foundation to fight pediatric cancer. Fundraising throughout the year culminates in a dance marathon, where the final amount of donations is revealed. Last year was the sixth annual dance marathon, and FDM raised a record-breaking $121,364.88.
Sammy Adams headlined the final event and organizers were pleased with the total funds raised. Although the organization has publicized its fundraising goal in past years, FDM co-directors Jacklyn Onody, GSB ’20, and Kimona Dussard, FCRH ’20, said organizers chose to keep it a secret to build more excitement about the reveal. The organization decided to maintain the secret even post-marathon, but Onody and Dussard said FDM succeeded in passing its goal.
USG Finalizes New Constitution
The United Student Government (USG) finalized a new constitution last semester, deciding on by-laws that had long caused disputes among USG members.
Select committees, such as the Diversity Action Coalition (DAC), International Integration and Dining, may continue to be chaired by all members of USG, including senators and cabinet members. However, only senators and non-USG members may chair standing committees, such as Finance and Budgets, House, Operations, Dean’s Council, Communications, Sexual Misconduct and Sustainability.
Then vice president of student life and current executive vice president of USG Ashley Qamar presented the Club Suite Guidelines that outlined House Committee jurisdiction, including allocating programming spaces in McGinley, Keating, Collins Hall and Rodrigue’s Coffee House.
Dining Committee co-chairs Senator Margaret Rothfus, FCRH ’20, and Frank LaGumina, GSB ’20, presented the Sustainability Subcommittee of Dining, which was approved by the senate to make an official committee.
NYPD Resolves Car Chase on Campus
On Friday, March 1, officers from the NYPD’s 52nd Precinct pursued a vehicle that drove onto the Fordham campus at the Southern Boulevard entrance. Officers took the three men in the car into custody shortly after, and no one was injured.
During the pursuit, an emergency text message was sent to members of the Fordham community, reading, “RH campus NYPD in pursuit of two males in the vicinity of Martyrs’ Court, one male bald/one male in camouflage.”
Once the situation was resolved, another text was sent out to update the community. The text said, “NYPD has apprehended all males at the RH campus. No further safety concern.” Some students found the wording of this text message — “all males” apprehended — inaccurate and comical.
Some of Fordham’s class of 2023 may have seen this incident take place, as several tour groups were walking past the scene of the arrest.
Fordham Community Mourns Losses
The Fordham community and family lost multiple students last school year. The university held distinct masses and services to recognize and mourn each of the community members.
On Thursday, Sept. 21, 2018, Nicholas Booker, FCRH ’22, died in St. Barnabas Hospital following a severe asthma attack. Booker was from St. Louis, Mo., and graduated from the John Burroughs School. He was 18.
On Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, Donika Celaj, FCRH ’19, died of a sudden illness. Celaj was from Yonkers, N.Y., and graduated from Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy. She was majoring in psychology. She was 21.
On Sunday, April 12, 2019, Sydney Monfries, FCRH ’19, died after sustaining a critical injury in a fall from Keating Hall clock tower. Monfries was from Portland, Ore., and graduated from Jesuit High School. She was 22.