Students Discuss Decision to Return, Or Not


The COVID-19 pandemic forced students to decide if they could return to campus this fall. (Mackenzie Cranna/The Fordham Ram)

Isabel Danzis, Contributing Writer

With the ongoing pandemic, Fordham students have faced the decision of whether or not to return to campus this fall. Many students elected to not return and are instead taking all their classes virtually. 

According to Alex Fischer, assistant dean of Students and director of Residential Life, there are about 2,500 students residing in university housing at the moment, down from about 3,400 at this same time during a normal academic year. 

He said his decrease in the number of students living on campus continues to help with safety-related measures during the ongoing health emergency.

Although there are in-person classes happening, a lot of classes are either fully online or functioning under a hybrid model, according to the Fordham Forward plan.

Dennis Jacobs, Ph.D., provost of the university, said in an email to the Ram that Fordham created a flexible learning environment that prioritizes the health and safety of all members of the community. 

“The faculty have worked hard over the summer to fashion their fall courses to promote effective modes of learning within the context of their discipline and the specific goals for their courses,” said Jacobs. “They have also designed their courses so as to be able to accommodate the individual circumstances of their students, who may need to learn remotely for short or long periods of time during the semester.”

During the first few weeks of the semester, students and faculty have been adapting to the constraints and opportunities of the current learning environment.

“We are preparing shortly to conduct a survey of all undergraduate students to learn about their academic experiences this fall and what they would find most helpful in support of their learning,” said Jacobs. “The results of the survey will help inform our planning of the course schedule for Spring 2021.”

Inside the residence halls, Fischer said that students have done a good job adhering to new safety policies. 

“We are grateful for the sense of community that our new and returning students have shown through their observance of these safety measures,” he said. “But there will of course be some we have to remind and even some conduct-related matters that we will need to address — but again, for the most part, students have done pretty well.” 

For safety reasons, there are caps on lounge spaces and attendance at programs. Programming looks a bit different with a variety of in-person, hybrid or fully remote events and activities, according to Fischer. 

“Our hope is that all students feel welcome on campus and in the residence halls and feel as though they are an active participant in the community,” he said. 

For John Townsend, FCRH ‘21, who first visited the Rose Hill campus for sporting events in middle and high school, Fordham has always had a special energy. 

“The campus was always buzzing with that intangible energy which meant to me a chance to achieve my vague ambitions,” he said. 

Townsend said he wanted to return to campus, despite the challenges of the pandemic, because he wanted to continue being a part of that energy.

“Every year, I knew I had made the right choice of coming to Fordham just based off that energy that set it apart from the rest, which is why I came back during the pandemic,” he said. 

Catalina Castillo-Lozano, FCLC ‘22, said she decided back in May that she was going to stay home this semester to save money and for health reasons. 

“My little brother has a weak immune system and has asthma and I have asthma so I didn’t want to risk getting it and if we got sent home due to an outbreak I wouldn’t be able to return home,” she said. “It’s been a struggle doing college from home because for the last couple of years I never had to do school work at home since I was only home on breaks. Between balancing my work load and being a tutor for my brothers who are also doing online school it has been hard for me to destress and stay well mentally.” 

Kathryn Murphy, FCRH ’21, chose to stay home because she belongs to one of the many at-risk groups for COVID-19. She said her and her parents decided it would be safer to take all her classes virtually. 

“Although it certainly is not what I expected the fall semester of my senior year to be, I am really happy that I am still able to be part of the Fordham community and fully participate in online classes,” said Murphy. 

Annika Fagerstrom, FCRH ’21, said she chose to come back because she would have had to navigate sharing the space in house with her three siblings and parents, all of whom are doing school online. 

“I felt that did not set me up to be prepared for the semester in the same way being on campus did,” she said.