ASILI Demands Fordham Address Anti-Blackness on Campus

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COURTESY OF ASILI

The Black Student Alliance at Rose Hill created an Instagram and email campaign with a list of demands for university administration.

By MICHELLE AGARON, Asst. News Editor

ASILI, the Black Student Alliance at Rose Hill, released an Instagram post featuring a list of demands concerning anti-Blackness at Fordham on June 22. The post included a call to action encouraging students to email administrators using a pre-written email linked on their page. 

The list, which consists of 11 demands, was mainly curated by ASILI secretary Alex Shaw, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’21, in collaboration with a group of Black Fordham alumni who were involved in ASILI during their time at Fordham.

Included in the demands are calls for Fordham to cut ties with Aramark, appoint more Black and queer people to administrative positions, develop psychological services for marginalized students and reconsider Public Safety’s ties to the New York Police Department. 

The undergraduate admissions page on Fordham’s website states that the Class of 2023 is the “most geographically diverse in our history.” There is no direct statement about racial diversity; the statistics show that African American students consisted of only 4% of the entire freshman population, as opposed to 13% for Asian students, 16% for Hispanic and Latino students and 55% for white students. According to Pew Research Center, 52% of Generation Z in the U.S. (6- to 21-year-olds) is White, 25% is Hispanic or Latino, 14% is Black and 4% is Asian.

Included in the demands are calls for Fordham to cut ties with Aramark, appoint more Black and queer people to administrative positions, develop psychological services for marginalized students and reconsider Public Safety’s ties to the New York Police Department.”

Gerald De La Cruz, FCRH ’22 and ASILI social media coordinator, also emphasized the need for more racial and gender diversity within Fordham’s staff, particularly the Board of Trustees. According to a report created by Randy Dumalig, FCRH ’22, out of the 90 currently appointed members on the Board of Trustees, 24 are women and only six are people of color.

When asked if there were any other demands De La Cruz would have added to the list, he spoke about the restrictive access policy at the Rose Hill campus. Currently, a student or faculty remember is required to show their ID card when entering the campus grounds. De La Cruz’s conviction that this policy was unnecessary and detrimental only intensified after reaching out to friends at other New York City schools.

He discovered that students and faculty members at universities such as Manhattan College, Columbia University and St. John’s University were only required to use their ID cards when entering buildings and facilities, not when entering campus.

“Fordham goes on and on about how much they care about the Bronx community they are a part of, yet works overtime to vet everyone coming to campus. I fear that, generationally, Fordham’s access policy has created a harmful narrative in the heads of students that their lives are in danger beyond the gates,” Cruz said.

In October 2019, the first Lincoln Center campus-specific public safety alert since January 30, 2018 was issued. Within the same time period, the Fordham community received 17 Rose Hill and two Bronx public safety alert emails. These statistics imply that not only does Public Safety fail to address Lincoln Center-specific public safety issues, but also reports more often on the Bronx area than it does on the surrounding Manhattan area.

I fear that, generationally, Fordham’s access policy has created a harmful narrative in the heads of students that their lives are in danger beyond the gates.”

— Gerald De La Cruz, FCRH '22

Another student, Teresa Jacob, FCRH ’23, stated that diversity on Fordham’s campus is incredibly important to her as a woman of color. After witnessing what she described as the “ongoing systems of racial and gender disparities on campus,” she felt compelled to increase her involvement in the Diversity Action Coalition and run for the Class of 2023 Senate. 

“I love Fordham, but its lack of improving racial diversity amongst students, professors, and administrators can feel frankly disheartening a lot of the time,” she said. “Fulfilling ASILI’s demands is a necessary step in acknowledging and addressing the ongoing systems of racism against Black and Brown people on our campus.”

Newly elected as a senator for the Class of 2023, Jacob hopes to amplify the voices of women of color on campus who feel systematically silenced by the administration.

Although the administration has yet to formally address ASILI’s list of demands, Lisa Betty, a Ph.D. candidate in history and a course instructor at Fordham, has publicly stated her support of the demands and listed three of her own recommendations in a report-turned-article on Medium

These recommendations include strategically reallocating diversity funds to directly impact students, implementing diversity, equity and anti-racism training for the entire Fordham community, and developing academic curricula that explain in detail Fordham’s mission of diversity, inclusion and equity. Each recommendation is accompanied by best practice models from comparable university systems.

Betty’s experience writing the report for a Fordham administrator in 2018 was marked by what she describes as gaslighting and belittlement, as well as a general feeling of hopelessness surrounding her personal experiences in the roles of faculty, graduate student and staff at the university. However, she remains proud of her report and the efforts of Fordham students during the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I am very impressed by the students who work every day to transform Fordham into the place it should be — you all are inspiring. Keep stating your truths and keep making demands,” she wrote.