A Day on the Plaza


Part of the green space of Fordham College at Lincoln Center’s Robert Moses Plaza. (Lauren MacDonald/The Observer)
Part of the green space of Fordham College at Lincoln Center’s Robert Moses Plaza. (Lauren MacDonald/The Observer)

September 25, 2014, 6 a.m., Eastern Standard Time

I turn over as the light peeks into my bedroom window on the 10th floor of McMahon Hall. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day, and by the bright sunlight, it seems that it is going to be. Suddenly, a faint and rhythmic chant grows louder and louder outside my window. It seems to be coming from the Outdoor Plaza. I wearily hop out of bed and look over out onto the green space tucked between the Law School and McMahon Hall. Below, some 10 to 20 men in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) attire march across the field in military fashion. They move with precision in their camouflage ensembles (which ironically, aren’t so camouflage against the background of the buildings surrounding them), and practice their routine for the next hour or so, efficiently using the space for their drill. 

Besides serving as space for Fordham College at Lincoln Center’s (FCLC) ROTC Program, the Outdoor Plaza, is a part of our 8-acre superblock here at FCLC. On tours of our campus, ambassadors are told to inform visitors that “if the [Outdoor Plaza] isn’t enough green space for you, we are two blocks away from Central Park!” Not only does this encourage prospective students who want that “campus feel” to consider FCLC, it also implies that a large number of our student body enjoys green space in the city. And, that is just what I set out to confirm: Does our student body use the Outdoor Plaza to the fullest extent possible? 

Camera and notebook in hand, I sat outside on the Plaza for one whole day. I studied people, talked to students and snapped photos. This is what I observed:

10:44 a.m.: Quiet, no one standing outside, it’s a chilly day out. A few students sat, drinking their morning coffee and working on their laptops at the white tables just outside McMahon Hall. By the Atrium, a few students sit on the blue benches just parallel to Lowenstein. One was on the phone, the other, reviewing notes and studying. 

11:22 a.m.: Right before class time, many students walk from McKeon or McMahon to Lowenstein with backpacks, books and laptops. Some rush, worried about being late to their 11:30 class, while others stroll casually by. Additionally, about 10 to 20 students stand  on the left side of Lowenstein’s plaza entrance, smoking cigarettes before class. 

1:10 p.m.: Just around lunchtime. Students walking in and out of Lowenstein with food, some stopping to say hello to their friends who were sitting or smoking in the Plaza, others walking straight over to McMahon. A few students standing and smoking cigarettes parallel to Lowenstein. 

3:00 p.m.: The action has died down except for a few students sitting parallel to the Atrium, chatting for a while. 

3:45 p.m.: A huge number of students walking to class at 4 p.m. Some stop to smoke beforehand, others head over to Lowenstein directly. Some students start making use of the green space in front of the Law School Building by sitting on the grass and chatting for a while.

5:10 p.m.: A small toddler and his nanny arrive in the Outdoor Plaza, the toddler seems to know his way around, so he must often visit this space. He runs around the far side of the plaza next to the old Law School, and his nanny runs after him, ensuring his safety. 

8:30 p.m.: It’s just after sundown, and the plaza is quiet. A few passersby carrying bags walk through to McMahon, and a group of graduate students head into Lowenstein. I decide to call it a night, and head back into McMahon. 

 After spending a day sitting outside and observing our use of the Outdoor Plaza, I can’t say I’m surprised. It seems as if the majority of students use the space to smoke, chat for a small amount of time and walk through as they head to class.  Students come and go from McMahon, but members of McKeon do seem to relax on the greenspace outside the New Law School Building. Families and individuals who come to use the space publicly also seem to keep to themselves and do not stay very long.

In response to a question about his thoughts on the Outdoor Plaza, Avery Bart, FCLC ’16 remarked, “I don’t use it. However, the new building gives it more of a campus feel. Some freshman might use it, but mainly, it’s just going to be used for them to get to Lowenstein.” 

On the contrary, Camellia Bai and Tatiana Barsukova, FCLC ’18, agreed that it is a space that freshmen use quite often. Camellia and Tatiana expressed that they hang out there multiple times a week with their friends, before, after and in between class. They also said that “members of the class of 2018 often play Frisbee and soccer outside on the green during the weeknights and weekends.”

Clearly, the upperclassmen are not inclined to take full advantage of the Outdoor Plaza, while the freshman class (as well as the ROTC on early mornings) seems to be making good use of the space. This bodes well for the future of Fordham, for the newcomers will slowly but surely shift the current dynamic.