By Alex Seyad
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.