Should Students Have a Vote of No Confidence at Fordham?

Several controversies at Fordham this academic year have led some students to lose confidence in the university. (ELIZABETH LANDRY/The Observer)

By Alex Seyad
Opinions Editor

This last academic year has been plagued by a multitude of issues on campus that have made many of us question the integrity of our university. From the clash between Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the administration to the ongoing standoff between the faculty and the Board of Trustees, there has been a large number of controversies that have smeared our university’s name in the public. We have seen our tuition consistently increase, yet the administration has problems balancing its budget, despite its willingness to increase its own pay. We have also seen our university listed as one of the worst for freedom of speech. This all culminates in the latest vote of no confidence by the faculty in Fordham President, Father Joseph McShane S.J. This causes us to ask if we should have our own vote of no confidence in our university and its administrators who have proven this past year that they can’t protect the integrity of this institution or uphold the Jesuit tenants that they have instilled in us.

Putting aside whether or not you agree with the mission and tactics of SJP, we can agree that all voices on campus should be heard and that it is the general consensus of the student body that matters the most. This past year, SJP was voted to become a club on campus by United Student Government, the collective of students voted to represent the larger student body, only for this to be vetoed by the Dean of Students. This action was the start of the drama that was to follow as students began to protest the decision of the administration and legal parties entered the fray. The administration has continuously shown that it refuses to acknowledge the views and opinions of the student body and refuse to feel the need to be transparent with students in regards to providing a proper explanation for its decisions. The apex of this disaster was Fordham being featured on several websites as one of the universities with the worst freedom of speech on campus. This label doesn’t just damage the integrity of the university and its administrators, but it also affects us, the students, who will have to go forth into the job market bearing the name of Fordham as our alma mater.

The largest issue at this moment is the current feud between the faculty and the Board of Trustees headed by Father McShane. The recent vote of no confidence exemplifies the schism between the two parties. The unilateral actions taken by the administration and the board in terms of salaries and cutting benefits can only be viewed as unfair and unjust. After a recent series of emails from both the board and the chair of the faculty committee, the student body has been flooded with conflicting information. Many of the claims being made, both officially and unofficially, are blatantly false and ridiculous. One such claim is that there is a priority being placed on student financial aid instead of faculty health coverage. This is clearly the Board of Trustees trying to find a justification for their recent increases in tuition. The notion that they have used student financial aid and faculty health benefits like simple variables on a piece of paper is outrageous and utterly disturbing. The fact of the matter is that Fordham’s only bargaining chip in recruiting future professors has been a substantial coverage plan. Fordham professors make 30 percent less than professors at Columbia and NYU.

This conflict will only cause potential professors to refuse any offers from Fordham and drive away current professors, who are most likely already reaching out to other schools. The group that has the most to lose, other than professors in need of their medical coverage, are the students of Fordham. Our university has been marked as a suppressor of free speech and our professors are considering an exodus, even those who stay will be less than thrilled with their employers. Our student body has been left in the dark and is being used as a scapegoat for various decisions by the administration and the Board of Trustees. Our future and the future of incoming Fordham students is in jeopardy and the only people we should hold accountable is the Board of Trustees. Following the precedent set by our faculty, we too should have no confidence in the administration, as it is the actions that jeopardize our future.

Fordham’s students and faculty have joined together to protest the actions taken by the university.

3 COMMENTS

  1. It looks like the author and everyone at Fordham needs to calm down and stop looking at the situation as being as catastrophic as this piece makes it sound.

    In the first place, Fordham is a private institution that has a clearly defined mission. Therefore it is totally entitled to decide what activities or which groups contribute to that mission and which ones may be detrimental. If students and faculty disagree with the administration, they definitely should be able to express their views, but not to expect them to be accepted. Those who feel injured also have the option of expressing their lack of confidence in the school by simply moving to another institution which may be more congenial to their agendas.

    In the second place, speaking of agendas, it’s very clear that there are groups and individuals with definite agendas that mostly, or only, want to use Fordham as a convenient forum where those agendas can be promoted. But the point of ALL universities is to preserve and advance human knowledge by teaching students so they can graduate and be productive and informed members of society. Political activism may be a valuable component of social involvement but it only has a place in academia as long as it doesn’t interfere with the primary objective of the university, which is learning.

    Finally, it must be said that among both the faculty and the student groups agitating against the university there are those whose goal is to disrupt the functioning of the school in the hope of forcing it to change into an institution that no longer conforms to the idea of a Jesuit, Roman Catholic university. They do their work under the hypocritical cloaks of defending faculty or student rights or grievances. They must be called out, because their purposes and actions hurt the rest of the academic community.

    And finally, I think that although it’ may be a worthy goal to “uphold the Jesuit tenants”, I believe that the Jesuits are the owners and, also, that the administration surely tries to “uphold the Jesuit tenets that they have instilled in us”.

  2. “In the first place, Fordham is a private institution that has a clearly defined mission. Therefore it is totally entitled to decide what activities or which groups contribute to that mission and which ones may be detrimental. If students and faculty disagree with the administration, they definitely should be able to express their views, but not to expect them to be accepted. Those who feel injured also have the option of expressing their lack of confidence in the school by simply moving to another institution which may be more congenial to their agendas.”

    nah. students shouldn’t have to transfer schools to be able to advocate for Palestinians to have access to clean water and not be forced out of their homes and off of their land. Political organizing is part of every single school campus. You don’t get to tell students to just leave rather than fight for justice and to LITERALLY start a club with the purpose of educating the student body on the human rights violations in Palestine. We have just as much a right to be here as any other student, and to want to change our community for the better. The faculty of the university largely supports SJP and not some ridiculous centrist garbage lol. How backwards are you to think that you just get to say “go somewhere else that you like better” … like if everyone was as ridiculous as that then nothing would ever change or improve anywhere.

    “Political activism may be a valuable component of social involvement but it only has a place in academia as long as it doesn’t interfere with the primary objective of the university, which is learning.” good thing SJP is literally about educating and spreading awareness. good thing the living conditions of our professors affect our learning. good thing the policies on the campus regarding freedom of speech affect our learning. good thing the political activism students are doing is fighting for healthcare benefits for faculty and staff at our school because we care about our professors and want them to be able to do things like eat and go to the doctor if they get sick. good thing

  3. Hey Carlos, students are paying the freight at Fordham and it is their money and voice, no student tuition no Fordham university ! Your ”Finally, it must be said that among both the faculty and the student groups agitating against the university there are those whose goal is to disrupt the functioning of the school in the hope of forcing it to change into an institution that no longer conforms to the idea of a Jesuit, Roman Catholic university”. Sorry we wanted a degree not ownership or to be turned into disciples or missionaries. We have every right to say whatever the heck we want, all the Jesuits have is the real estate the university sits on, calling it a university has become a stretch. Fordham is just a very expensive experience, a story we have to play along with, it is The Truman Show and then we find out half the faculty are adjuncts! Pictures of Keating Hall get and Jubilee etc hide reality, that being a school that is masquerading as a university, a big Fordham Prep. YES students should have a vote of confidence in Fordham instead of being controlled, censored and isolated, shooting the messenger days are over!

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