Fordham Community Responds to Bronx Fire

McShane directs the Fordham community to donate to Catholic Charities, students want more action



There are many options for ways that students can donate to those affected by the Tremont fire, including donating to organizations or to verified GoFundMe campaigns.


A deadly fire occurred at a high-rise apartment building in the Tremont neighborhood of the Bronx on Jan. 9, killing 19 people and injuring 44. Students called on Fordham to help its surrounding Bronx community as well as provide ways to help the victims’ families.  

Fordham University President the Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., encouraged the Fordham community to donate to Catholic Charities, an organization supported by Rev. John J. Cecero, S.J., vice president for mission integration and ministry. McShane explained that the charity has a sizable footprint in the community, which ensures that the aid goes to those in need.

“I hope you will give generously to support the survivors of this tragic fire—the worst since the Happy Land Social Club fire not very far from campus—and in keeping those who died or are injured, and their loved ones, in your thoughts and prayers,” McShane said in the email he sent to the Fordham community on Jan. 10. 

According to Bob Howe, assistant vice president for communications, Fordham sent $1,500 from the Student Emergency Action team, $1,000 from the Campus Ministry Alms Fund, and $5,400 from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which is a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

“Campus Ministry also took up a Church collection last Sunday, (raising approximately) $1,000,” Howe said. “It will be channeled to the victims through Catholic Charities as Father McShane had asked.”

The Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) provided halal snacks for families waiting to be relocated, as well as $1,500 in gift cards as immediate relief for necessities, according to Howe. CCEL is also running a school supply drive in coordination with BronxWorks for families affected by the Tremont fire with school-aged children. Fordham community members can drop off items from the School Supplies Drives list by noon on Feb. 7 at the CCEL Main Office located in McGinley 205, or purchase items from the Amazon wishlist by Feb. 5.

“Many of the families were Muslim, (so) why were Catholic charities given money?” Kadidia Keita, Fordham College at Lincoln Center ’25

According to Joe VanGostein, Gabelli School of Business at Lincoln Center ’22 and president of United Student Government (USG) at Lincoln Center, USG has been using its social media platforms to provide ways for students to donate and help those in need. VanGostein added that USG has been supporting Catholic Charities per McShane’s recommendation.

While McShane spoke highly of Catholic Charities and referred to them as “the most expeditious way to get aid to survivors and the families of victims,” Kadidia Keita, Fordham College at Lincoln Center ’25, believes otherwise. 

“Many of the families were Muslim, (so) why were Catholic charities given money?” Keita asked. 

“Sending out the emails one time to talk about this one time is not enough to make us care about this.” Kadidia Keita

She underscored that the GoFundMes created to directly help the victims and their families should have been promoted instead. GoFundMe created a list of over a dozen campaigns, organized by verified fundraisers, that help individuals and families affected by the fire.

Although Keita is glad the university is supplying victims of the Tremont fire with resources and is encouraging students to acknowledge the fire’s effects, she hopes continued communication from the university about the event will emphasize the needs of families who are still struggling and show how the fire affected the community. 

“Sending out the emails one time to talk about this one time is not enough to make us care about this,” she said.

Correction: A previous version of this story had the headline “Students Dissatisfied with University’s Response to Bronx Fire.” As of Feb. 7, 2022, this has been updated to reflect the title that was published in print in our Feb. 2 issue.