It started with the formation of The Positive in 2014. A rally on the plaza followed in early 2016. Op-eds raged about the travesty throughout 2018, along with another rally. In a spring 2019 news article, Dean of Students Keith Eldredge said “the university is not ready for (it)… at this time.” Come fall 2020, however, the university has introduced housing options based on gender identity rather than biological sex. It’s a long-awaited announcement, the culmination of years of student activism and constant pressure on administrators. Generations of students came and went, graduating and moving on, seeing little to no progress — and yet, their cause succeeded regardless. That should give us hope.
When students come together to fight for policy changes, we win. No matter how prolonged and frustrating the journey may seem, long hours of consistent work and perseverance may lead to revolutionary changes within the Fordham Lincoln Center (FLC) community. This recent housing victory reminds us that student movements actually can be effective and valuable in creating change on campus. In order to build upon this momentum, FLC students need to embrace an attitude of involvement and begin advocating for causes that they believe in. As impossible as it sounds, student movements can (and often are) successful — even if it takes years.
Fordham administrators could have done many things. Students went through the proper channels to get gender-neutral restrooms — but it took the university four years to even install all the signage. Students went through the proper channels to revise housing policy — but the Residence Hall Association proposal was rejected out of hand. Students had enough, rallied on the plaza and sent top administrators an open letter — but 34 days of silence yielded only to platitudes, and it would be another three months before a task force would be created to respond. Every action taken, every push for change, seemed to be in vain. There were so many easy solutions to the conflict that went ignored, and so many students who looked back over their shoulders and wondered, as they walked the stage, if anything they had done had mattered.
If you feel strongly about an issue on campus, start meeting with other people who agree. If you want to alter policies regarding housing or dining, reach out to someone with the information you need to develop an action plan. You might not always be able to enact the change you want to see in your four years at Fordham, but if students continue to organize and rally for your cause, you can make this campus community stronger in the years to come.