Fordham Suspends All Campus Events

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JILL RICE

As New York City universities try to keep up with the rapidly-developing situation and reassure their communities, some students have voiced concerns that administrators are not doing enough.

By SOPHIE PARTRIDGE-HICKS, News Editor

Two Rose Hill professors and three Fordham University students have decided to self-isolate after potential exposure to the coronavirus, according to a Public Safety email at 8 p.m. on March 6. The University announced the suspension of all non-class activity in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease on Fordham’s campuses in an additional email sent from the Office of the President at 10 p.m. on March 7. 

The decision to cancel campus activity is in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo declaring the coronavirus outbreak an official state of emergency in the State of New York, with 105 confirmed cases as of March 8. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued updated guidelines about the virus on March 6.

Other Manhattan colleges confirmed that they would be canceling classes this week. On March 8, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger announced that after a member of the Columbia community was exposed to the virus and quarantined, all classes would be canceled on March 9 and 10. Online classes will resume for the rest of the week. Barnard College will follow the same schedule. 

In an email to the Fordham community on March 5, President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., wrote that the university “will take whatever measures necessary to limit exposure to the virus.” 

Many students have expressed their anxieties about continuing to go to classes with the outbreak. Sydney Costales, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’21, talked about her concerns as a commuter traveling to Fordham for classes.  

“I take the train every day to get to school during rush hour when the subways are packed and people are coughing and sneezing and you can tell everyone is uncomfortable,” Costales said. “There are so many cases in New York at the moment, it almost seems inevitable that it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.” 

“I just think it is in Fordham’s best interest to cancel in-person meetings and switch to remote classes,” Costales said. 

A change.org petition is also circulating within the Fordham community demanding the university cancel all campus activities to ensure student and staff safety and health. It currently has over 700 signatures. 

“It is irresponsible for Fordham to continue with classes,” the petition stated. “Governor Cuomo has already declared a state of emergency, and for a tight community as that in our campus, 5 cases of contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients is already too much.” The petition criticized Fordham’s sanitation efforts, saying how “little to nothing has been done to disinfect public areas on campus.”

However, Gab Greico, FCLC ’21, does not think that canceling classes would have an impact. “A lot of us have other obligations like interning and working around the city, and then so many Fordham students live together or at least socialize together, so I don’t think that canceling classes alone would really stop it spreading since we all live and work among millions of other New Yorkers,” she said. 

CUNY students have also started a change.org petition asking university administration to close or move to online-only classes. “Students education should not cost them their health,” they wrote in their petition. 

St. John’s University responded to the outbreak by suspending the university’s in-person attendance policy if students have concerns about attending classes. The university is also trialing an electronic-based teaching format on March 12 and 13 to prepare if the outbreak does force the University to shut down.  

On March 3, NYU President Andrew Hamilton encouraged the NYU community to continue to conduct business as usual while taking extra precautions such as regularly washing hands. The university is also asking anyone in the community who had traveled abroad in the past 14 days to file a report with the university.  

Fordham maintains that the university is responding to the evolving situation and that an emergency response committee is in communication with the CDC and the New York State Department of Health.

Public Safety continues to report that there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus on campus and that the five people who chose to isolate did so “out of an abundance of caution” after they might have been exposed to the virus.

Students who live in areas affected by a coronavirus outbreak will be able to stay in residence halls over spring break. University Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, and the Office of Residential Life will also all be opening over the break to support students.