Blackout at LC Draws Over 200 Students and Admins


There were a large number of administrators and student leaders in attendance at the event. (CONNOR MANNION/THE OBSERVER)


On Friday, Nov. 13 at 12:45 p.m., a group of students, faculty and administrators gathered in the Outdoor Plaza for a “Blackout” event, prompted by the recent protests at the University of Missouri and a recent announcement by the Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S. J., president of Fordham University, that a swastika was found carved in a bathroom dryer on the Lincoln Center campus. The event ran for approximately two hours and served as a safe space for multiple students to share their personal experiences with racism. There were also calls to action by the organizers of the event, Sinclair Spratley and Lexi McMenamin, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ‘17.

Also in attendance were the students that would later address the Fordham Faculty Senate, which was scheduled prior to the planning of the Blackout the same day and time as the event.

Carla Jackson, the Fordham theatre program administrator, spoke first then handed the microphone to students for more personal reflections on racism.

“It is crucial to lift up the voices of people of color, and you have no idea how much power you have,” Jackson said. “Take a minute to love yourself and people around you … know that the lovers always win.”

Spratley, one of the organizers of the event, stated that the planning came from her friends at other colleges. “I have friends at every school that planned an event, other than Missouri, so I started to think why shouldn’t Fordham have an event too.”

She was, however, surprised by the large turnout. “I honestly thought that there would be around 20 to 25 of us on the plaza … after the email went out on Thursday morning, it seemed to really spur the administrators here to support us,” she said. “Then it really came together really quickly and in a great way.”

“I really don’t consider myself an organizer, but it was amazing to see all this come together,” she continued.

The email, in which McShane described the defacement of the Lowenstein bathroom as “a kind of terrorism,” Office of Student Leadership and Community Development (OSLCD) administrators Dorothy Wenzel and Christina Frankovic began advertising the event through email and OrgSync.

Wenzel sent an additional email to all club leaders, providing information on attending the ‘Blackout,’ stating: “if you want to work on an event concerning the bias incidents, climate at Fordham, or the issues happening at various higher education institutions concerning diversity and racism, you can do so. I know the deadline for submitting events in OrgSync has passed, but we will accept late reservations for this purpose.”

Signs were also placed in the Indoor Plaza of Lowenstein and the lobby of McMahon Hall advertising the event. The residence hall signs were placed by Jenifer Campbell, director of Residential Life, who also attended the event.

Spratley was concerned about student involvement until this development from Fordham administration. “I did want a lot of clubs and club leaders to be involved, but I was worried they’d feel they were speaking against the school.” Representatives from many of the cultural clubs on campus were in attendance and supported the event.

Speaking at the event, Spratley said, “Standing in solidarity is not enough, but this is a first step and it is an important step.”

Milton Bravo, assistant dean at Fordham Lincoln Center, said the event made him recall Father McShane speaking to the class of 2019’s families during new student move-in. “He said several times that we are here as administrators, as staff members, to care for your students. It is tremendously upsetting to hear all of these experiences these students have gone through in their time here at Fordham.

“The only thing I can say is that they are not alone and they should not feel alone. And I will do my part to be there for them and help them feel welcome here at Fordham,” he continued. Leighton Magoon, FCLC ‘17 and president of United Student Government (USG), said, “This was a powerful and much needed event, but we need to keep moving forward on discussions like this.”

Lexi McMenamin is the Co-Opinions Editor for the Fordham Observer.