Has Fordham Lived Up to Its Expectations?

FLC+has+failed+to+reach+the+expectations+of+hopeful+freshmen.

COURTESY OF HOPE VANDERWATER

FLC has failed to reach the expectations of hopeful freshmen.

By BITHJA PIERRE, Contributing Writer

Think back to the summer after your senior year of high school. You were making lists for school supplies or dorm essentials, thinking about how you would be starting over with a clean slate in just a few weeks. What were you expecting college, or more specifically, Fordham, to be like?

Now, fast forward to two months into your first semester. Did Fordham meet those expectations? 

It’s a bold question, isn’t it? Can you honestly say that you’ve given it a lot of thought? A fellow classmate once said to me, amongst a group of other students, that the one thing that most Fordham students seem to have in common is that we all don’t like it here. She said that it was “the bond that brings us together.” And the truth is, I can’t say that she’s wrong.

Since the day I started attending Fordham University, there’s been this lingering thing in the air — an unspoken understanding that Fordham Lincoln Center students share, but never voice. We know that there’s something off, something we want to fix, an itch we want to scratch, but it’s sometimes hard to pin it down to one location. It’s as if in our minds, we had expected a Fordham University different than the one that we got. 

So what had we been expecting, exactly? What did we think we would find here that left us hungry once we actually arrived?

Honestly, I couldn’t put my finger on it for a while. So, in order to kickstart my reflection process, I started asking freshmen what they expected from Fordham before they arrived, and what they actually received. Naturally, the hottest topic among freshmen was the dining facilities here at Fordham Lincoln Center.

One freshman commented, “The food is just about inedible, and I get sick every time I go to the dining hall for dinner.” Another simply stated that the Community Dining Hall in McKeon Hall could use serious improvement. They’d expected more variety in healthy food options, and better tasting meals.

Another thing mentioned by the freshmen I encountered was dissatisfaction with the extensive nature of core classes. They expressed discontent with the amount of core classes required in the Fordham curriculum, mentioning that they’d envisioned being able to spend more time taking electives and classes related to their major.

Then there was also the topic of Fordham’s guest pass policies for residents. Yujin Kim, Fordham College Lincoln Center ‘23, commented on the fact that residents cannot request guest passes for someone of the opposite sex, stating, “It’s difficult to feel like an adult when we are being treated like children.” It seems that freshmen had also expected the freedom to invite any guest over, regardless of their sex.

After receiving all these perspectives, I found myself agreeing with them. Although I commuted freshman year as opposed to living on campus, I remember wishing for better food and fewer core classes. But for me, it was also diversity and representation. The Fordham website states that Fordham is committed to diversity in all dimensions. But in 2017 when I first enrolled as a student, there were 377 black students out of 9,599 total undergraduate students enrolled at Fordham University — less than 4% of the entire Fordham undergraduate population.

Did I expect better from Fordham? Absolutely.

What bothered me most when I began attending Fordham University was that I didn’t see enough people that looked like me. The “something off” was that I could count on my fingers the number of black people in my year that I knew at school. And the something that needed “fixing” was that most black people who asked me where I went to school knew next to nothing about Fordham. I expected for it to not be an anomaly that a black woman was sitting in one of the classrooms of the Lowenstein building. I expected to not experience semesters where I was the only black woman — or black person, even — in my classes.

If you’d asked me whether or not Fordham had lived up to my expectations freshman year, just as I’ve asked the current freshman class, my answer would have been no. And considering the fact that black undergraduate students at Fordham still make up less than 5% of the entire undergraduate student population, I can say that my answer probably hasn’t changed. 

Today, I can only hope that Fordham is working harder to meet those expectations now than they were when I first arrived. Because truthfully, it seems that the lingering thing in the air, the unspoken understanding that I learned of freshman year, remains present today among Fordham students, manifesting itself in different forms and through different perspectives. 

Perhaps one of the biggest indicators of the presence of this unspoken understanding is Fordham’s high transfer rate. I once remember being in an elevator inside McKeon Hall filled with freshmen who were bonding over the fact that they were all filling out transfer applications. I think it’s safe to say that finding the solution for raising Fordham’s retention rate starts with asking Fordham students why they’re leaving. And essentially, I’ve just answered that question.

We want to see a more diverse student population, we want better food, we want fewer core classes and we want to be treated as responsible adults who can invite guests over regardless of what sex they are. These are the expectations that we had before entering Fordham, and they have yet to become reality.

So now, we have discussed what we want. If, then, we are heard, but not listened to, we at least know that we’ve done all that we can. 

It is up to Fordham to decide whether or not they will strive to be a better Fordham for the next freshman class.