The ‘Fortress’ is Coming

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Published: September 27, 2007

A public hearing held by the city’s Department of City Planning on Sept. 10 made it clear that the community surrounding the Lincoln Center campus is not pleased with the university’s expansion plans.  Most people who spoke said that they will be living in a ‘fortress’ if Fordham goes ahead with its purposed plans.

The expansion plan calls for new buildings to be constructed along the perimeter of the superblock (West 60th to West 62nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues) with the northwest and southwest corners being sold to private developers to help fund the expansion.  Residents of the Alfred Apartments, the only part of the superblock not owned by Fordham, are opposing the expansion because the new buildings will surround three sides of their building when the Master Plan is complete in 2032.

We understand that residents are concerned about the impact this expansion will have on their lives and their community. But with Manhattan’s ever-growing population and with more high school students attending college than ever before, Fordham is expanding because it needs more space and state of the art facilities to accommodate its students; not because it wants to infringe on the community.

Fordham is striving to be the premier Catholic university in America and is trying to keep up with Columbia University and New York University, which are constantly buying up various areas of Manhattan to expand their schools.  If we stay at the size we are now, we will never achieve our goals. Classroom space is so limited that it is difficult to find an open classroom during any period of the day.  Most clubs do not have their own office and have to improvise meeting locations.  It is possible to reserve a space through Conference Services, but what happens if a space is not available on the day and time the meeting or event takes place?  Not to mention, The Observer’s editorial board has become so large that we’ve outgrown our office.

As of now, some freshmen apartments in McMahon Hall that are meant to have six people living in them have eight.  That’s four people per bathroom all trying to get ready for 8:30 a.m. classes.  One of FCLC’s lures is its apartment-style living space that is situated in one of the best locations in Manhattan. Cramming people into an apartment makes it seem like we are living in single room dorms that don’t have a kitchen, a living room or a bathroom.

The FCLC expansion is a frustrating situation for all parties involved, but what it comes down to is that the next generation deserves the facilities necessary to make their higher education a productive and motivating experience.  Neighborhood residents should not prevent America’s youth from having an exemplary college education because they did not want Fordham to expand.  Fordham will not be creating a ‘fortress;’ it will be developing a real college campus that happens to exist in one of the greatest cities in the world.