College Council Talks Politics, Advising & More


(Tyler Martins/The Observer)


The Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) College Council discussed professor political conduct at their latest meeting just before spring break on March 12. While the meeting was planned to take place the week prior, on March 5, Lincoln Center’s closing due to the snowstorm had delayed the faculty meeting. Other topics included the upcoming academic registration period, Admitted Students Days and a proposed joint math and computer science major.

Rev. Robert R. Grimes, S.J., dean of FCLC, asked those present at the Council meeting to ensure that the academic departments remain “rant-free zones” and not be used as “bullying pulpits.” Grimes then took the opportunity to mention an email he had received from a student who had identified as a “conservative” and who felt particularly victimized by a professor. Without using any names, the student claimed that the professor had used “foul language” and “went into a rage” against those who did not agree with their particular viewpoint, including the complaining student.

Grimes stated that he was initially hesitant to bring up this matter to the College Council, questioning whether or not the forum was appropriate, but ultimately decided to follow through after receiving support from various faculty members. Grimes agreed with the sentiment that reactions such as that of the mentioned professor “stifle the development of critical thinking” and therefore have no place here at FCLC.

Timing for the Academic Advising Registration Period was also discussed. Robert K. Moniot, associate dean of FCLC, announced that he had heard some grumblings over the placement of the advising period in the academic calendar and had been requested to relocate it. “I need to start collecting arguments pro and con,” Moniot announced to the council. Professor Gwenyth Jackaway, associate chair of the communication and media studies department and associate professor at FCLC, seconded the sentiments of those who wished to relocate the advising period, arguing that, since the period is located so close to if not overlapping with midterm period, it creates an exorbitant amount of work for FCLC’s professors. According to Jackaway, advising period is the key tool used by professors to check in with students and ensure that everything is alright, but the ability to do so is severely hampered if they must juggle this task with that of grading midterms. “Registration isn’t what’s labor intensive; advising is,” Jackaway said. “Does it all have to happen at the same time?”

Moniot suggested that advising for freshmen and sophomores could be delayed until the week when juniors and seniors register for classes in order to ease the tension on professors. Jackaway, however, insisted that the advising period be delayed for at least a couple weeks after midterms so as to be certain that the two do not overlap. It was ultimately decided that the advising period for the fall 2015 semester would occur in the two weeks prior to Thanksgiving Break while the period for the spring 2016 semester would occur after Easter.

Dr. Arthur Werschulz, professor of computer science and the associate chair for undergraduate studies in his department, spoke to the council about the number of students at FCLC interested in a focus in both mathematics and computer science. However, the math major requires 11 total courses while the computer science major requires 15, and few to no courses exist that count for both.

Because of this, and because of the major workload demanded by both departments, a double-major in both subjects is effectively impossible. In response, it was proposed that a new joint mathematics and computer science major be approved. “The beautiful thing is that it won’t cost Fordham anything in terms of resources,” David Swinarsky, assistant professor of mathematics, said. “The courses already exist.”

Courses with mathematics and computer science focuses would be offered on a cyclical basis, and it would be up to the student to time when to take the required courses, though Swinarsky assured the council that it would not matter whether a student started the major taking courses on either side. When put to a vote, the new joint major was approved with absolutely no objections or abstentions.

Admitted Students Days were announced to be on Wednesday, April 8, Friday, April 17, and Friday, April 24. At the mention of these upcoming days, Jackaway, expressed concern that the tours through the Leon Lowenstein Building, which are an essential educational portion of the Admitted Students Days, could potentially disrupt classes. Jackaway stated that she has often had to shut the door on students as a tour passed by her classroom in order to keep the class focused. She not only felt that this is rude to the students on tour, but also that it deprives them of the very reason they came in the first place; to see a Fordham classroom. “It would be great if they could be respectful and quiet when passing by the classrooms,” Jackaway said. Grimes agreed and said he would keep this in mind.

Grimes expressed pride in FCLC’s senior class. Fordham’s Law School has received 23 applications from members of FCLC’s senior class and all 23 applications have resulted in acceptances. “I don’t think this has ever happened during my time in the dean’s office.”