In a university where principles of social justice, tolerance and solidarity are upheld alongside its mission to educate, racist and homophobic hate crimes have tainted its wholesome brand. The hate crimes first occurred when Rose Hill senior and Resident Assistant Melissa Wright came home on the evening of Feb. 7 to find the N-word written on the door of her Walsh Hall apartment. The next event occurred at Lincoln Center on Feb. 27, in which the words “gay loser” were painted in graffiti in a stairwell between the 11th and 12th floors of McMahon Hall. The third most recent incident occurred on March 2 in which another racist slur was scrawled in a Goupil Hall bathroom at Rose Hill.
Students, school officials and faculty have all responded against the discriminatory attacks. Town hall meetings hosted by the administration have been held on both campuses for students to dialogue about the attacks. According to the article “Rally and Responses to Graffiti Incidents” by Laura Chang on pg. 1, student groups like Rainbow Alliance have held workshops for students to open up conversation about the recent events, even conducting exercises to make students think critically about the biases they have against one another.
In another article, “Professor Publicizes Resignation Letters After Slurs,” written by Laura Chang on pg. 1, one faculty member, Professor Melissa Maldonado-Salcedo, has publicized her resignation from teaching at Fordham in direct response to the hate crimes, frustrated with the racism, classism, sexism and homophobia she encountered from students within her classes. The issues our university is now facing have even made headlines in some of the metropolitan area’s top news sources, detailing the hate crimes on the websites of CBS, the New York Daily News and WNYC.
The Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses have historically remained distinct from one another, divided by stigmas and stereotypes of their students, almost developing a rivalry between the two groups.
However, we have come to the startling realization that it has taken hate to bring the two Fordham communities together. Ironically, it has taken devices of separation—discriminatory language against certain groups for superficial differences—and shame over people within our own communities to bring our campuses together in their disgust towards prejudice. With the rapid and continuous rate at which these hate crimes have been occurring, we are left to question what this will mean for the future of Fordham. Will other hate crimes such as these happen again? How can we continue to think critically about the prejudices we have against one another? As two distinct campuses, we remain united in our quest to combat hate crimes and we hope that tragedy will never again have to be the force that brings us together as one.