As the fall semester comes to a start and the hallways at Fordham come back to life with fresh faces, there will be a sense of calm before the storm of cycles of stress and anxiety takes over. For us upperclassmen who remember the events of the past semester, all of our eyes will be on the administration to see how and if they will try to make acts of good faith to reconcile with a disgruntled student body. We don’t care about the flashy events that the university hosts to impress freshmen and prospective students, but rather some form of action that will make students believe that the administration is putting their best foot forward in moving the university in the right direction. We, the students, will be looking for transparency and cooperation from the administration. We want to see that the faculty providing us with our education is being treated fairly and that our right to speak our mind is protected by our school, not limited by it.
Fordham has given itself a bad reputation this past year and was listed as one of the worse universities in the United States in terms of free speech. In terms of disciplinary action, many moves by administrators have been questionable to say the least. I believe the only goal of the university moving forward should be to show us that they are willing to hold themselves accountable for wrongful actions and that they’re committed to protecting and promoting free speech on campus. Unfortunately, in reality we will probably only receive an email from Father McShane that will share a narrative of how the university is committed to protecting our rights via Jesuit values etc. In the end, we will probably all glance at the email in our inbox, roll our eyes and move on with our day. The sad fact is that there probably won’t be any serious attempt to address this issue because Fordham, like most other universities, will try to push this under the rug and pretend that nothing ever happened.
One act that Fordham can execute to show a commitment to helping the student body is the hiring of the new Chief Diversity Officer. While we constantly get emails about this, few of us actually really give it much thought because we know in the end we will never have a say in the matter nor will we ever having any interaction with this administrator. What Fordham should do is hire someone who is committed to the mission of promoting and sustaining diversity on campus. Someone who is of color and won’t present us with the run of the mill speech about how the university is all for diversity. In the end we can only expect the university to hire a placeholder, probably a middle-aged white male, whose words about his commitment to diversity hold as much weight as Donald Trump’s.
Furthermore, with the events happening in Charlottesville, it is more important now than ever that our university implements these changes. Fordham will have to be vigilant to protect its student body from hate groups that may be looking for an audience and they will also have to look to empower anti-hate groups that will no doubt pop up around campus. We will need something more than emails condemning the acts of white supremacists and other hate groups. What we will need is action. Action by the administration to mend old wounds and to show a reinvigorated interest in pursuing social justice. Last semester has shown that the Fordham student body isn’t afraid to stand up and use their voices. The goal for Fordham’s administration should be to help the students voice their opinions and their discontent, not suppress it.