The Fordham Ram Fordham University's Journal of Record Since 1918 Thu, 10 Sep 2020 20:12:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Beyond the Scoreboard: Barcelona Making the Worst of a Messi Situation Wed, 09 Sep 2020 20:11:49 +0000 You are one of the greatest players in your respective sport. You have been the driving force in attaining tremendous prosperity for your team over a 16-year period of time. Yet, all of this suddenly becomes inconsequential when that team refuses to accept your decision to ultimately part ways amicably for potentially greener pastures. That is Lionel Messi’s current reality.

After suffering an 8-2 shellacking in their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal match against Bayern Munich nearly a month ago, the writing was on the wall for Messi and FC Barcelona. Not only did that loss give Barcelona their first trophy-less season since 2007-08, it marked what many believed to be the end of an era for the “Blaugrana.”

Watching Messi walk off the pitch that day in Lisbon, there was no doubt in my mind we had witnessed his final match in a Barcelona jersey. It was beneficial for both parties to see the 33-year-old Argentinian star move on from the only club he has ever known. From Messi’s perspective, a change of scenery with a new team seems logical as he enters the twilight of his brilliant career. As for Barcelona, allowing their older core players to go elsewhere in favor of acquiring and developing younger talent into a future contender made sense for a club desperately needing to rebuild.

So, when sources confirmed on Aug. 25 that Messi officially informed Barcelona of his desire to leave them following this summer, the possibilities of where he might end up began to run rampant in my mind. Would we finally see Messi move to England and compete in the Premier League for Manchester City? What if Messi decided to join Neymar, his former teammate at Barca, and play in France for Paris Saint-Germain? Or, could there be a chance to see Messi take his talents over to Italy, join Juventus F.C. and create an ultimate alliance alongside his biggest rival in Cristiano Ronaldo?

Unfortunately, none of those options came to fruition. On Monday, Messi returned to resume training with Barcelona after announcing last week in an exclusive interview with Goal that he did not want to engage in a potentially ugly legal dispute against “the club of my life” for clarity on his contract situation.

So how exactly did we get here in the last two weeks? Well, it all starts with Messi’s contract that he signed back in 2017. His current contract included a stipulation that at the end of each season, he could opt out of the deal without Barcelona getting any financial compensation for his departure. However, in order to do so, Messi would need to inform the club of that decision before June 10 or else risk having to pay a whopping 700 million euro release clause payment should he wish to leave at any point after the deadline.

But amid the coronavirus pandemic, European club soccer leagues were shut down in March and no longer on schedule to be completed before the beginning of summer. La Liga would instead have to settle for finishing its season on July 19 as Champions League play did not end until late August.

Considering these extenuating circumstances, I assumed Messi would get the benefit of the doubt after his father and agent, Jorge Messi, sent a letter to La Liga President Javier Tebas. Even after explaining that the release clause payment was not applicable after the 2019-20 season, according to his son’s contract, Tebas and La Liga issued a statement siding firmly with Barcelona after analyzing the contract.

It does not come as a shock to me that the league would rule in favor of arguably its most popular club over one player, even a transcendent footballer like Messi who has generated millions of dollars in revenue for the Spanish league in his time with Barcelona. La Liga knows if they forced Barcelona to honor Messi’s release without receiving compensation, Messi would likely leave for a club elsewhere in Europe. The league lost Ronaldo to Italy two years ago and in losing Messi too, they would be devoid of the two superstars who elevated La Liga as arguably the best league in Europe since their respective arrivals.

Messi may have surmised this situation best in the interview with Goal, saying, “This world of soccer is very difficult and there are many fake people. This has helped me to recognize many fake people. It hurt me when my love for this club was questioned. No matter how much I go or stay, my love for Barca will never change.”

In hindsight, Messi could have easily taken Barcelona to court for their indiscretions towards his contract and put himself in position to win a potential legal dispute. But, that just isn’t his style. A gentleman on and off the field, Messi would rather spend the last year of his contract unhappy at Barcelona than to expose them to the world as a club who won’t allow the greatest player in their history to leave respectfully without inheriting a hefty payday.

Everything Messi did to help Barcelona win countless matches en route to filling up the club’s trophy case for nearly two decades, you would think he has given the club more than enough to merit leaving and finishing his career elsewhere. Sadly, even the most loyal star athletes do not receive the happy endings they so rightly deserve.

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Alanis Returns with Introspective ‘Such Pretty Forks in The Roads’ Wed, 09 Sep 2020 14:00:07 +0000 Comparable to a “big bang” in the music universe, the ’90s marked a musical renaissance. In this “big bang” would arrive the creation of a star no one could ever prepare for — a star so bright, raw and enigmatic that she would command the era of the ’90s and etch her name emphatically in the constellations of what it meant to be an icon.

A mother, mindfulness advocate and still-compelling artist, Alanis Morissette has graced us with a new album, and it is a supernova of astronomical proportions. 

“Such Pretty Forks in the Road” sets itself apart from Morissette’s early works like the brazen “Jagged Little Pill.” On this album, she fearlessly approaches her own forks in the road.

While these challenges certainly were not pretty, the artist’s introspective approach offers the work a beautiful quality. 

In an 11-track album, Morissette explores the consequences of fame as a young woman in a male-dominated music industry, dealing with alcoholism, insomnia, mental health, emotional instability and the imminent fear of losing one’s luster as the tides of time crash over an artist.

To commence her pilgrimage of pondering, she opens with the ironically named track, “Smiling.” Almost hauntingly, Morissette sings, “This is a life of extremes / Both sides are slippery and enticing / These are my places off the rails / And this, my loose recollection of a falling / I barely remember who I failed / I was just trying to keep it together.” These lyrics, married to the light yet powerful strumming of an electric guitar, convey to the listener that Alanis Morissette is no longer the wildfire woman she was, but a star who uses her faults to tell stories unfathomable. This is the approach she takes as she swings and solidly strikes down her inhibitions. 

The track “Reasons I Drink” epitomizes Morisette’s self-reflection. It oscillates between an upbeat piano tune and Morisette’s banshee voice that holds a bite sharp enough to pierce listeners’ hearts. Delving into why she has taken to the bottle, she sings a verse acknowledging her struggle with alcoholism and how it affects other people besides herself: “These are the reasons I don’t even think I would quit / These are the reasons I can’t even see straight / And these are the ones whom I know it so deeply affects / And I am left wondering how I would function without it.”

The subsequent track “Diagnosis” takes a similar trajectory with a much more piano-grounded approach. Serving as a commentary on depression, Morissette acknowledges that no one can truly comprehend the caliber of what depression takes from someone indiscriminate of who they are.

With lyrics like, “Call it what you want / ’Cause I don’t even care anymore / Call it what you need to / To make yourself comfortable,” Alanis Morissette boldly confronts the detractors of depression, as she exclaims that labels do not matter when facing mental suffering; all people are capable of falling victim to mental illness, and such an acknowledgement could not be truer with present circumstances.

However, surely to be a personal favorite for many listeners is “Losing the Plot,” an epic musical composition that ostensibly lulls listeners into a sense of solemn comfort, only to pick up with guitars blaring. It is this track where Morissette truly seems to be in her element, as she attacks headfirst the demons of insomnia and the fear of being forgotten.

After singing “with my relevance in dust,” Morrissette not only harkens back to the chorus but does so with an amplified sense of conviction as electric guitars play a searing symphony. With songs this masterfully crafted, it is quite ironic that Morrissette would be afraid of being forgotten at all.

“Such Pretty Forks in the Road” is a testament to not only the legacy of Alanis Morrissette, but to her renewed sense of direction. By merging introspection, penetrating vocals and sobering sound, Morissette shows that even when in the presence of inner demons, one could address those forks in the road in manners that could be quite pretty. 



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CAB Hosts Successful Hybrid Welcome Week Wed, 09 Sep 2020 11:31:41 +0000 Campus Activities Board (CAB) hosted its annual Welcome Week that started on Aug. 30 through Sept. 4 for new and returning students. 

The events included a virtual Q&A on Sunday with Heidi Gardner, an actress and comedian currently on SNL, a classic night of Bingo in the McGinley Ballroom and North Dining on Monday and an outdoor showing of “Little Women” on the football and baseball fields on Tuesday.

The board hosted a virtual Q&A with Anthony Ramos, an actor and musician who starred in the Broadway show “Hamilton,” on Wednesday. Lianna Meehan, FCRH ’21, CAB president, hosted a Zoom information session for CAB on Thursday, and the week ended with a scavenger hunt on Friday. 

Kathryn Murphy, FCRH ’21, said it was very interesting to listen to Anthony Ramos talk about his experience working in theatre and film.

“As a theatre minor, I thought it was very moving and inspirational to hear how much of a positive impact theatre has had on his life, although it was not originally his intention to pursue a career in theatre or music,” said Murphy. “He was very casual in his conversation which made me feel like I was listening to friends have a fun conversation and not listening to a celebrity talk to some college students. His easy-going mannerisms made me feel like I was part of his friend group and someone who could relate to my own life experiences.” 

Meehan said all the events had over 100 attendees, with some in two locations to abide by the 50 attendees per location requirement. 

“The virtual events had great attendance, which was very exciting,” said Meehan. “We started the week off with a virtual event, a Q&A with Heidi Gardner. There were 114 attendees, which boosted my confidence for the rest of the week! Our Anthony Ramos Q&A had nearly 300 attendees! … Both speakers were incredibly cool and sweet which was an added bonus.” 

Meehan said planning for Welcome Week this year was different from previous years because of the pandemic, but it pushed her and the CAB Executive Board to get creative in order to plan virtual as well as in-person events that made people feel excited to be back at Fordham. 

“The process was a little hectic since so much is still up in the air and things are always changing at the last minute,” said Meehan. “However, I wouldn’t have done a thing differently — I am so proud and happy at how Welcome Week came together!” 

Some students who attended agreed that while Zoom was not ideal, it was a good solution given the current COVID-19 restrictions. 

“Using Zoom for the speaker events was a great solution for virtually offering the Welcome Week events,” said Elizabeth Mitsch, FCRH ’21. “It was awesome to hear from Heidi Gardner and Anthony Ramos, and listen to how they started their careers! I’m looking forward to seeing what else CAB has planned for the semester.” 

Anna Csiky, FCRH ’21, said she would go to another similar event on Zoom.

“I think it’s really awesome and I like that we can ask questions we may not get to ask otherwise,” Csiky said. “Overall, it was really awesome listening to Anthony Ramos and Heidi Gardner and how they started their careers. I think Zoom was a great way to keep doing these types of events.” 

Meghan Donovan, FCRH ’21, said she thought the format and set up worked well. 

“I definitely prefer seeing speakers in person, but I’m very glad CAB found this creative way to keep events going,” said Donovan. “I would really like to keep attending these events if CAB keeps doing them. I really enjoyed getting to see Anthony Ramos and Heidi Gardener over Zoom.” 

Meehan said it wasn’t difficult planning the in-person events, but it was a new experience. She said all of the attendees at the events were understanding and receptive to the guidelines that were laid out. Everyone registered for the events they wanted to attend beforehand to ensure that they were following New York City and Fordham guidelines, she said. 

“I know it sounds corny, but I truly loved every event that CAB hosted for Welcome Week,” said Meehan. “It was so nice to come together and see Fordham students attend our events even though they turned out a little different this year!” 

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Pandemic Causes Defferals and Smaller Freshman Class Wed, 09 Sep 2020 11:31:35 +0000 Fordham welcomed a smaller freshman class and faced a stark increase in deferrals this year as the fall semester started amidst a pandemic. 

There are over 2,000 students in the class of 2024, according to Patricia Peek, Ph.D., dean of undergraduate admissions. However, this is in comparison to the more than 2,200 students that made up both the class of 2022 and 2023 upon arrival.

Peek attributed this decrease to a myriad of factors related to the pandemic, including financial difficulties, increased uncertainty for international students and the desire for many to stay closer to home.

In acknowledgment of these adversities, Fordham developed a virtual recruitment plan to engage with students unable to visit. They also rolled out a pilot program that will make all applications for the next two years test-optional.

“We are confident that this pilot program aligns with our existing holistic evaluation process and will further eliminate existing barriers presented by these tests,” Peek said.

Some of the 2,000 students decided to take their classes completely online and therefore do not live on campus or interact physically with other Fordham students. 

Still, others decided to put off starting school altogether. Nearly four times as many Fordham students decided to defer their acceptance this year compared to years past, according to Peek.

Generally, the admission office reports around 20-25 deferrals among the thousands of acceptances. However, due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, 94 students decided to postpone their attendance this year. About half of the 94 plan on beginning classes at the start of the spring semester, while the other half will wait until fall of 2021.

This trend is not unique to Fordham. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, websites like Year On, which help students plan their gap year, saw more than double the amount of web traffic around college admissions time in 2020 compared to last year. 

Kate Wharton, FCRH ’24, said she thought about deferring her acceptance but could not come up with other plans to fill her time.

“COVID hasn’t exactly sparked a lot of opportunity,” she said.

Hayley Gregoire, FCRH ’24, reiterated this point.

“I really thought about taking a gap year,” she said. “But then I realized I wouldn’t be able to travel anywhere so there was really no point.”

Chloe Mathewson, FCRH ’24, wanted the opportunity to make friends and attend her two in-person lectures.

“I did consider going fully remote,” she said. “Eventually, I decided to come to campus because I really didn’t want to miss out.”

This new class of students is facing more new struggles now that they are in attendance.

Making friends while maintaining social distance regulations has proved especially difficult, according to Mathewson.

“I think all around it would be easier to connect with others without distance,” she said. “Making sure I’m safe is a constant thought that puts a bit of a damper on everything I’m doing.”

Masks — which Fordham requires students to wear at all times with the exception of dorm rooms — have also posed unforeseen challenges in the quest for friends, according to Mathewson and Gregoire.

“This is kind of silly, but I have a very hard time remembering people’s names from just seeing their foreheads,” Mathewson said. Gregoire said she misses a simple smile.

“I swear a smile goes a long way,” she said. “I always feel like I’m staring at people when I want to say hi.”

Despite the difficulties, Wharton said she found a sense of solidarity amongst her classmates.

“I really think that everyone is in the same boat,” she said. “People are being extra friendly and welcoming and really just want to talk.”

Gregoire said she just hopes things will get better with time.

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USG Holds First Hybrid Meeting of The Fall Semester Wed, 09 Sep 2020 11:31:07 +0000 This past Thursday, Sept. 3, the United Student Government (USG) held its first meeting of the year both in-person and over Zoom, with senators and members of the Fordham community attending over both platforms.

USG held special elections for the positions of vice president of Student Life and president pro tempore, as well as an election for the class of 2022 senator.

The newly elected vice president of student life is Elizabeth Vernon, GSB ’22. She stated that it was her goal to drum up interest for the USG art show and set up a stream of the Keating stairs to unify the distanced community.

The newly elected junior senator is Kristen Ronan, FCRH ’22, who said that her aims are decreasing the amount of plastic used in the dining hall, increasing outreach from Fordham students to the Belmont community, helping raise awareness of mental health and encouraging self-care.

The new president pro tempore, a position in the Senate for a person who acts as a liaison between different class councils and individual senators, helps set up meetings and acts as an advisor to class councils, is Sen. Carsyn Fischer, FCRH ’21. 

Public concerns raised during this meeting included a question by Sen. David D’Onofrio, FCRH ’22, who asked whether all doors on campus could be modified to be opened by foot rather than by hand in order to decrease the spread of bacteria caused by physical contact with door handles. 

This style of handle is already being utilized in bathrooms across the Rose Hill campus, excluding those in Dealy, and Fischer explained that since propping doors in residential halls open is considered a hazard, this style of handle is an option to consider.

There were further concerns about COVID-related guidelines both off and on campus, including one from Sen. Alex Chavez, FCRH ’23, regarding the unclear policies related to visitation between different residence halls for off-campus students.

Executive Vice President Thomas Reuter, FCRH ’22, said he felt that the Wi-Fi on campus has been slower than usual this semester, which was concerning given the fact that most classes at Fordham are held online.

Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Arianna Chen, FCRH ’22, proposed a change to the International Integration Committee (IIC) that would allow international students who are not USG Senate members to be the chair of the committee, turning the chair position into a delegate position. 

She cited the importance of having someone lead the committee who intimately understands the struggles of international students, which would be especially important this year considering the varied circumstances of international students.

Fischer suggested that USG instead focus on outreach so that international students are aware that such a position exists before turning it into a delegate position. Vice President of GSB Reilly Keane, FCRH ’21, proposed that the position be turned into a co-chair position, with the possibility that a freshman international student could be partnered with someone more experienced with the procedures of USG.

During delegate updates, the Residence Halls Association (RHA) Executive President Sandor Erik Lorange, FCRH ’21, and the RHA Communications Director Billy Harrison, FCRH ’22, both spoke. Harrison said that  RHA would be holding elections from Sept. 7 to Sept. 11.

Keane presented a change to the bylaws of the GSB Dean’s Council which would allow the council to add or drop subcommittees without the approval of the senate.

During delegate reports, Dean Arcuri, the delegate for the Office of Student Involvement (OSI), explained that OSI has a supply of disposable face masks and portable hand sanitizer for on-campus events so that clubs will not have to budget for these resources when planning events and programming.

Finally, students are reminded that freshman elections for the USG Senate close on Sept. 18.

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Students Document COVID-19’s Effect on the Bronx Wed, 09 Sep 2020 11:31:00 +0000 When COVID-19 hit New York City this spring, Veronica Quiroga, FCRH ’20, was working on her senior thesis detailing ethnographic research on young men in East Harlem’s Wagner Housing Projects. 

When concerns over the virus eventually cut off in-person interviews, Quiroga’s advisor, Mark Naison, Ph.D., suggested she shift her attention to how the virus was impacting not only those she knew in Harlem but in the Bronx as well, the site of extensive scholarship on underserved residents through the Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP). 

Through the research methods and the funds of the BAAHP, Quiroga’s initiative,

The Bronx COVID-19 Oral History Project mirrors the BAAHP and aims to broadcast and uplift the voices of ordinary Bronxites, many of whom are essential workers. 

“When you have a lot of people stepping back from society, what does it look like when a predominantly Black and brown community steps up?” Quiroga said she asked herself to propel her research. 

Quiroga and Bethany Fernandez, FCRH ’22, both Bronx residents, completed the first of their interviews by mid-April and have continued to spearhead the project.

“Recording these voices is of essential importance because the people of the Bronx, many of whom live on the edge of poverty and work in ‘essential occupations,’ have experienced one of the highest fatality rates from COVID-19 in the entire world,” the project’s website reads. 

Naison said he attributed higher infection and mortality rates in the borough to a multitude of factors, including a large percentage of essential workers who take unsafe modes of transportation to work. One interview subject, Nichole Matos, a student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a resident of the Morrisania neighborhood, spoke about living with her mother, an essential worker, and her first-grade sister. 

“It’s concerning because although her work is a source of income, it’s a risk for her safety and our safety,” Matos told Quiroga in a video interview

Naison also emphasized the living arrangements of intergenerational families, many of whom are recent immigrants. 

 “If one person is infected, often the entire household will become infected,” he said.

The project’s website tells of the Bronx being home to the 15th congressional district, the poorest district in the country. 

“Studies have found that Bronx residents are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 in NYC,” the website reads. “Health officials have stated the reasoning behind this is due to the high rate of preexisting conditions in the borough itself, including asthma, hypertension, and diabetes.” 

Quiroga also interviewed Derrick Lewis, the founder of the community relief organization, the Bronx Foundation. He said in his interview that he believes the borough has experienced a pandemic of poverty for decades, which has exacerbated the effects of COVID-19. 

“Our community will be forever impacted,” Lewis told Quiroga. 

For many Bronx residents, this virus is personal. Marlene Taylor, an internal medicine specialist at the Ryan Chelsea-Clinton Community Health Center in Midtown Manhattan and a resident of Riverdale, said COVID-19 does not exist outside of her patients’ lives. 

“Everyone I see knows someone who has died,” she said to Quiroga. 

In her interview, Taylor’s advice to Bronxites, specifically those with compromised immunity and preexisting conditions, is to make sure they are seeing a primary care physician who can treat diseases like diabetes before COVID-19 becomes an issue. Despite fears of medical malpractice due to the historical negligence of people of color, she said that now is more important than ever to listen to experts like Dr. Fauci and routinely follow CDC guidelines. 

Carlos Rico, FCRH ’21, who designed the project’s website, spoke about the recognition the project has received thus far. He said the project is currently under review at the Museum of the City of New York to be featured in an exhibition, NY Responds, which will be available for viewing at the end of the year and will show how the city has dealt with both COVID-19 and police violence in 2020. 

Rico said he also put together a “Featured Businesses” page and a “Featured Artists” page to highlight the pursuits of some of the interview subjects. Quiroga said that was an important part of the project because it helped promote regular people whose businesses and art might not have received coverage in addition to telling their stories. 

Key takeaways for Quiroga included the misconceptions she had about Bronxites. Prior to her research, she said she thought people of color in the Bronx did not truly understand both subtle and blatant racism used against them. Now, she said, she’s realized that they understand the oppression they face and how the pandemic has highlighted it. 

“These injustices bleed through their stories,” she said. 

Although COVID-19 might not be the main concern in people’s lives at the moment, Quiroga said its after-effects are alive and well in the Bronx. 

“The project will go on as long as Bronxites have a story to tell,” she said. 

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Students and Professors Share Thoughts About Online Learning Wed, 09 Sep 2020 11:30:55 +0000 The coronavirus pandemic forced Fordham University to adapt in many ways, one of them being the transition to a more online-centered curriculum. 

Over the summer, Fordham gathered feedback from over 1,000 students on what worked and what did not work during the sudden switch to remote classes last spring. While over 75% of students said they were either satisfied or extremely satisfied with communication from instructors, many students were dissatisfied with the general clarity and structure of classes as well as with more experiential courses like science labs and performing arts classes, according to Maura Mast, dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill. 

Laura Aurrichio, dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, said she sees an opportunity here. 

“I have been really inspired by the creativity and commitment I’ve seen from so many faculty members and departments who have completely rethought their courses with an eye to taking advantage of the new opportunities offered by this new mode of learning,” she said. 

For example, Aurricchio said the art history department has used the new course format to their advantage by changing the normal introductory course to a global art history introduction. Each art history professor had the opportunity to record a video lecture in their geographic area of specialty, which will then be watched by every section of the course, along with a follow-up discussion moderated by their own professor. 

The theatre department has similarly used this opportunity as a way to collaborate with other universities around the country like Georgetown and Northwestern. 

Natasha Chuk, a professor in the Communications and Media Studies Department, said she also sees opportunity in the new format.

 “As a media scholar and practitioner, I don’t find remote instruction inherently inferior to traditional classroom settings, and it can offer some benefits to the learning experience that are missing from conventional approaches,” said Chuk.

She said she believes that both synchronous and asynchronous components are useful for a successful class — synchronous class time provides students and professors with face-to-face discussion, and asynchronous class time supplements this and allows students to make connections and think on their own.

Chuk acknowledged the various difficulties that go along with online classes, such as delayed audio, an unrealistic two-dimensional grid of students and issues with differing internet connectivity. Yet, she said she still finds that in-class discussion is rich. 

“Online, there isn’t an equivalent to a front or back row,” she said. “I suppose the grid organization of Zoom and asynchronous participation on Blackboard discussions, for example, are more egalitarian than a large classroom space from a design standpoint.” 

Jackie Mutkoski, FCRH ’23, said she is much less nervous to participate in online classes than she normally would be in an in-person class.

 “I feel comfortable at home,” she said. “Although I find it easier to get distracted.” 

Kelsey O’Brien, FCRH ’23, said distractions at home are a difficult part of online classes as well.

“I miss the physical aspect of being in class with a professor and other students in a traditional classroom setting — I felt like I was engaged and more present,” O’Brien said. 

Kara Van Cleaf, a new media and digital design professor at Fordham, said she worries about the differences between in-person and online classes for students. 

“I don’t know what the social experience is like for students with remote learning,” said Van Cleaf. “I worry they are missing time before or after class to connect with each other. I’m trying to build that time in, but I realize it’s not that same space.” 

Another thing Van Cleaf said she was worried about when deciding whether or not to conduct class online or in-person was the method by which students would physically get to her class. She said she did not want students to feel uncomfortable taking public transportation during a pandemic in order to be able to attend her class. 

Mariah Mendez, FCRH ’23, who used to commute to school every day, said she finds both benefits and challenges in this aspect of online classes. Without the need to buy a monthly metro card and a meal plan, she said she is saving money. She said she also now has the opportunity to work in the afternoons since she is not spending that time commuting home after class. However, she said one difficulty is finding ways to socialize with other students. 

“I don’t like that I don’t really get to socialize with my peers or make friends, which was already difficult as a commuter,” she said.

 Mast said both students and professors are adapting to this environment, and while it can definitely be done, it takes a different approach. 

 “I worry about what I always worry about, which is that students build connections — to each other and to faculty — and that they will be intellectually challenged,” said Mast.

Both Mast and Aurrichio said that they want to emphasize how available they are to students. 

“We are just one email, phone call, or Zoom link away,” Aurrichio said. “Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns, or even if you just want to reconnect.”

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Fordham’s COVID-19 Policies Have a Promising Start Wed, 09 Sep 2020 11:30:43 +0000 Fordham University is joining the struggle of countless other U.S. colleges to open amid a pandemic. While this seems like a difficult feat, Fordham University seems to have one of the more promising plans with regular free testing, the use of VitalCheck and a strict mask policy. However, the plan’s effectiveness depends on student and faculty participation. 

Fordham is in a much better position than many other universities when it comes to controlling the spread. The campus gates allow the university to control who can enter, making it difficult for individuals outside the Fordham community to bring COVID-19 to campus. Additionally, the CDC highly recommends regular testing to all universities, and Fordham is doing a very good job of this. Everyone was required to be tested before returning to campus for the fall semester, which likely hindered the virus’ initial introduction to our campus. Fordham providing free tests to its students and staff upon arrival is also incredibly commendable. This will encourage people to get tested more frequently, as the price of tests can be high and many free testing sites have a long wait time for results. As long as Fordham offers the option for students to be tested frequently, we have a chance to stay ahead of any major outbreaks. 

With regard to the classroom, Fordham has allowed professors to make a decision about whether they would like to teach online or in person. While it is excellent that Fordham is respecting their faculty’s decisions, the same luxury has not been afforded to many of the workers at Fordham. Fordham’s food workers, custodial staff and maintenance workers are now left with minimal job security (as we could be sent home at any time) and have no choice but to come to work, even if there is an outbreak. 

This issue leads to the topic of on-campus dining. All of the on-campus dining locations are now “grab and go.” It is unclear whether the decision to make all eating utensils disposable is to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 or to reduce the number of necessary employees to assist with cleaning. According to UCDavis Health, touching contaminated surfaces is not the main way the virus is transmitted. While it is important to take all possible precautions, even if they only prevent a few infections, the environmental consequences of disposable utensils and the loss of dishwashing jobs far outweigh the risk of infection. However, the design of the dining locations appears to be very effective. Tents and outdoor tables are set up all over campus so students have comfortable and low-risk places to eat, but open-air tents may become a problem as the weather gets colder. 

Fordham also made the decision to ban all interdorm visitation. While this policy seems incredibly effective for containing the virus, there is some major pushback, especially from upperclassmen who already have established friendships. It is easy to sympathize with Fordham’s Residential Life staff, since coordinating requests is an incredibly difficult job. Housing seems to be the most difficult component of university life to manage during the pandemic. It will not be surprising — providing the infection rate on campus stays low — if this policy is modified for upperclassmen housing in response to the discontent. 

While policies on campus are fairly easy to create and enforce, off-campus student living  presents a much bigger challenge. Many major outbreaks that have occurred at other colleges have been linked to off-campus parties, particularly ones hosted by fraternities and sororities. Despite not having Greek life, Fordham still must take into account the fact that infections will most likely occur off campus. Before the return to campus, students were required to complete an online module that gave information about the virus itself along with Fordham’s particular policies. In a component about off-campus activities, they emphasized that people should not have gatherings of more than 10 people, a reasonable and effective request considering most outbreaks from other schools occurred at large parties. 

However, Fordham is threatening to enforce this policy through the use of the NYPD. The policy states that the police will be able to confiscate Fordham ID cards and give them to Fordham Public Safety, where they could later be picked up by the student. It is shocking that Fordham is working so closely with the NYPD, especially in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, for which Fordham has consistently voiced support. I reached out to Father McShane’s office to express my concern about the wording of the policy and point out contradictions to the previous email about educating for racial justice. I received an email back that stated: “None of this states, nor implies, that Fordham is using the NYPD to enforce COVID-19 precautions, much less threatening students with police action (it is the same policy language the University has used for decades).” Perhaps it is time to change the language in an attempt to be a more inclusive community.  

Overall, Fordham’s COVID-19 policies have the potential to be effective; however, there are a few key issues regarding concern for minimum-wage employees, environmental risks and reliance on the NYPD. Fordham’s Mission Statement emphasizes community, justice, respect for the environment and moral reflection. That is what draws so many people to our wonderful community. As we move forward in the year, I hope that some of the COVID-19 policies morph to fit these values in a more comprehensive way.

Ava Erickson, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major Denver, Colo.

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Democrats Outshine Republicans in Unconventional Conventions Wed, 09 Sep 2020 11:30:42 +0000 American history books reflect an image of a nation that has seen a great deal of turmoil, although furnished on ideals of liberty and equality. However, if there were ever a moment where America could be said to be going through a crisis, it would be now. Crisis would be selling the issues Americans are presently facing short, as the present crisis does not only test what we were, but tests the very heart and soul of who we are and what we will be as a nation in 2020 and beyond. On the heels of both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, our nation’s divisions could not be more apparent.

Unconventional is the only term befitting enough to describe both conventions, as the DNC held its first virtual convention with a slew of speakers such as the Obamas and the Clintons. The convention saw California Senator Kamala Harris accept the Democratic nomination for vice president of the United States — making her the first woman of color to do so. Contrarily, the RNC was held in-person for all three days with supporters of President Trump arriving in droves. All four of the president’s adult children, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, President Trump himself and others certainly served as lightning rods for headlines. However, one speaker, in particular, who shattered convention was Mike Pompeo, who would administer his speech from Jerusalem, Israel. With approximately three months until the presidential election, it seems that the scene has been set, and the 2020 election has history written all over it. 

Not to endorse either party, but the DNC, although held virtually, was not only more compelling because of its notable array of speakers, but more so because of how it captured the very essence of what it means and looks like to be an American in 2020. Although powerful speeches from former President Barack Obama left a lasting impact on audiences, it was the ideal of the American citizen at the center of this election. However, both conventions employed an intriguing repertoire of tactics to try to sway swing voters, and one of those tactics lies in the very nature of how the conventions were conducted. Democratic voters, who are more likely to be voting through the mail, witnessed Joe Biden give perhaps one of his most powerful speeches to an almost empty room, which truly captures Biden’s devotion to mitigating the pandemic. Conversely, President Trump and Vice President Pence would offer their speeches to a lively Republican crowd in Washington, D.C. since conservative voters are more likely to vote in person. On this front, both conventions did a solid job of appealing to their respective bases. Still, in terms of relaying a message to voters about the importance of adhering to necessary protocols to halt COVID-19, the DNC may not have been held the way Americans want; however, it was conducted the way Americans need. As a result, the DNC sends a profound message to both liberal and conservative voters about what needs to be done to control the pandemic while simultaneously showcasing that Biden is willing to lead the charge.

However, the criteria of being compelling far transcends this seemingly baseline aspect, for what Americans truly care about is present in the topics adversely affecting our nation today. Among those pivotal topics are the sordidly ubiquitous issues of racial injustice, COVID-19 and the economy, which lies in disrepair. Where the RNC saw liberal-bashing, condemnation of protests and, bizarrely enough, the prodigious pushing of the QAnon conspiracy by Kimberly Guilfoyle, the DNC seemed less concerned about taking aim at the political opposition and more engaged with aiming for creative solutions to the various health and socio-economic diseases afflicting America. Indeed, the RNC raised several valid points about the rioting, violence and looting by disavowing such actions. Yet it seems that the bulk of the convention backed out of its promise to understand the general American sentiment. While the Republican Party condemned these actions, it did not seem to comprehend or acknowledge why there are protests in the first place. Although Joe Biden condemns such actions, he shows that he can understand, sympathize and empathize with the reasons why peaceful demonstrations are occurring. 

Additionally, where the Democrats responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with a sense of urgency and pragmatism, the Republicans approached it as a minute obstacle that hinders our economy. It was almost as if they failed to recognize that there will be no economic recovery if there is no health recovery. Although President Trump promises a vaccine sometime in early November, many Americans cannot shake the thought that the release of a vaccine so close to the election is less about the wellbeing of the people he swore to protect and more about bolstering his reelection campaign.

Although the DNC was more compelling, that does not necessarily mean it was perfect. The reality of holding political conventions during a pandemic saw ratings slide drastically from the almost spectacle-like ratings of 2016. Although speech quality from the Democratic convention was high, it was still muddled by the conspicuous fact that without an audience present, speeches carried significantly less weight than they would have with an active audience. However, the Democrats drove their point home, as they proved that political conventions are not meant to show off a politician’s oratory abilities. They are intended to express the power of the American people. If the Democratic convention proved anything within the days it was held, it proved that perseverance, despite grueling circumstances in America, has not yet been lost.

Noah Osborne, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major from Harlem, N.Y.

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The Internet Reckons with the Rise of Anti-Semitic Crimes Wed, 09 Sep 2020 11:30:41 +0000 A Chabad Center at the University of Delaware has been set on fire. An online fast-fashion chain has been scrutinized for selling a necklace brazenly bearing a swastika. Top NFL and NBA players have publicly supported anti-Semitic leaders, perpetuating their ideals and spouting forth anti-Jewish sentiments. All of these headlines have, of course, garnered a shocked response on the internet. What’s most shocking about it? The fact that these events have all occurred in the year 2020. 

There has been a significant increase in the number of violent anti-Semitic crimes committed in the New York and New Jersey areas, two locations that typically convey forward-thinking and accepting attitudes. While the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization, has yet to release its statistics for 2019, the data points toward an almost 20% increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes just from the year prior. 

America’s biggest cities, usually prided for their diversity and political progressivism, most clearly display the rapid increase in anti-Semitic behavior. New York City is set to have recorded the most anti-Jewish hate crimes in the past year since the early ’90s. Not only is the sheer amount of anti-Jewish hate crimes going up, but the statistics show that these attacks are becoming increasingly more violent

A recent fire at the University of Delaware Chabad Center caused damages of approximately $200,000. While deemed an intentional case of arson, the fire somehow showed “no indication of a hate crime” according to Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio. A criminal investigation is open, though it is difficult to see how a case of arson against a well-known cultural hub for Jewish students could be ruled as anything besides a hate crime. The wrecking of the Chabad Center, which frequently hosted Shabbat dinners, holidays and other celebrations, will leave a void in the campus’ Jewish community.

Alongside the literal fires lies a flame that sparked online when Shein, a popular online fast-fashion site, stirred controversy in their sale of a “metal swastika pendant necklace.” The e-commerce site has already received heat from online customers for selling religious Muslim prayer rugs and marketing them as decorative carpets. When Shein received backlash from the sale of a swastika necklace, they said it was being sold as a Buddhist swastika, which initially has ties to spirituality. The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit word for “good fortune.”

 This claim from Shein attempts to feign innocence while boldly disregarding the offensive associations that come with the swastika symbol. The symbol is so intricately tied to the Nazi party and their despicable actions during the Holocaust that this necklace’s sale is extremely offensive to Jewish individuals.

Besides hate crimes and retail rampage, the rise in anti-Semitism can also be observed in the world of sports. DeSean Jackson, wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, received backlash after public support of anti-Semitic remarks from , Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan online, as well as posting quotes falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler. The Eagles were quick to release a public statement assuring viewers that they would be taking steps to resolve the issue and working towards a more open-minded playing field. Jackson’s colleague, former NBA player Stephen Jackson, came to DeSean’s defense on Instagram Live, claiming that he bore no ill will towards the Jewish population while making stereotypical references to the Rothschild family and making comments like, “I don’t think [Jews] stand up for [black people] as much as they should.” 

While all these incidents occurred in varying formats, one thing that they have in common is a  quick response from outraged individuals online. Although it is deeply saddening to think of how prevalent anti-Semitism is in present-day America, it is comforting to see perpetrators held accountable.  “Cancel culture” is a popular issue in society, constantly making headlines in recent months. While there is a fine line between cancel culture and holding people accountable, these anti-Semitic actions are a clear example of the internet doing everyone a service by not allowing these people to erase their deeds from history. 

The burning of the Chabad Center in Delaware is heartbreaking, but the students joining together online to raise funds to rebuild the center is an inspiring display of community ties. The sale of an offensive, anti-Jewish symbol by Shein is downright unbelievable. Still, the power of the internet to hold an entire company accountable simply by expressing their outrage in comments helps to show us that maybe people aren’t as divided as we think. The outdated comments made by idolized sports players are disappointing, but the ability of viewers and fellow athletes to remind people that these comments are unacceptable is a positive change and a sign of progression. 

The rise of anti-Semitism is extremely disappointing. However, the individuals’ ability to band together online in great enough numbers that their voices are finally heard and loud enough to bring about change shows us just how influential we are. The internet is a powerful tool, and it is our responsibility to continue to use it for the ultimate good. 


Taylor Herzlich, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major from Mt Sinai, N.Y.

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