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Fordham Law

Fordham’s new homepage features staples from both campuses, like FCLC’S St. Peter the Fisherman statue. (Courtesy of fordham.edu)
Fordham’s new homepage features staples from both campuses, like FCLC’S St. Peter the Fisherman statue. (Courtesy of fordham.edu)
Fordham’s new homepage features staples from both campuses, like FCLC’S St. Peter the Fisherman statue. (Courtesy of fordham.edu)

Staff Writer
Published: December 10, 2014

On Thursday, Dec. 4, Fordham launched the long-awaited new website. The updated site features 4,000 pages with new designs and is also formatted for mobile devices, as mobile traffic has been overtaking desktop traffic on the website. 

In an email interview, Donna Lehmann, director of online communications at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), said, “First and foremost, fordham.edu was overdue for a redesign, reorganization and an upgrade in management technology.”

The website, while updated, will not be a complete overhaul. Lehmann said that while most pages would get a redesign, there is still a lot to be done over the spring semester. “It will take some time to transition all of our web content into the new templates,” she said.

Students can anticipate an update to all the schools’ pages, including Fordham Law and the Gabelli School of Business – others include student affairs and most department pages. 

However, my.fordham is not among the pages to get a redesign; at the current time, the update will only focus on the main website. Some students feel that my.fordham is in need of an update. Katherine Burks, FCLC ’16, said, “That portal’s ugly … I don’t think it’s set up optimally.” Dissatisfied, she also said, “It’s weird that DegreeWorks is all the way at the bottom.” 

Matt Scheffler, FCLC ’18, agreed and added, “[This] is such an eyesore to look at. I feel like I’m in 1995.”

Lehmann is hoping that with the new pages and features, students will be able to offer feedback on the update so that changes can be made over the course of the next semester.  “We’ll be looking to address as many issues as we can. While I’m interested in what students think about the size of the font or the behavior of a particular menu, I’m much more interested in how easily they can find what they need and how the site makes them feel about their school,” she said.  

Young Eun Nam, FCLC ’16, upon seeing the new site, said, “I think the new website is cleaner and more beautiful design-wise.” However, she thinks it is still problematic, “because there is a picture, I can’t see everything at the same time.” The main page features a large photo feature that takes up the top half of the page. “I feel like the pictures could be a little bit smaller and the fonts bigger, because I feel like the menu doesn’t look important right now.”

Scheffler also felt like changes needed to be made. “It looks nicer but it’s not user-friendly. I think it’s clean … [the login button] is definitely a problem because it’s not very accessible … that really annoys me.” The login button was originally featured at the top of the page, but has now been moved to the very bottom. “It definitely needs to be more user-friendly.”

Published: August 27, 2014

NEWS_Teachout-Teachout-Wu Campaign
Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Teachout runs against Governor Andrew Cuomo for Governor of the State of New York. (Courtesy of Teachout/Wu Campaign.)

Fordham Law (FLS) Associate Professor of Law Zephyr Teachout is in the middle of a campaign to unseat incumbent  Governor Andrew Cuomo, FCRH ’79, in the Democratic primary for Governor of the State of New York on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

Teachout, a law professor at Fordham since 2009, entered the Democratic primary after the Working Families Party, a influential party of labor unions and liberal activists, considered endorsing Teachout over Cuomo. When the party eventually endorsed Cuomo, Teachout decided to pursue the Democratic nomination. Teachout was able to submit 49,000 signatures to make the ballot (only 15,000 are required). 

A graduate of Yale University and Duke Law School, Teachout has written at length about corruption in government, most recently “Corruption in America,” which will be published this September, coinciding with the primary election. 

“The system is rigged, and Andrew Cuomo is part of the broken system. We are running to lay out a bold vision and provide a real choice for voters,” Teachout wrote on her campaign website. “New York can have an economy that works for all of us — not one which works only for the wealthy and well connected. We believe in a New York where wages are rising, small businesses are thriving and our public schools are the best in the nation.”

Teachout’s chances of winning are slim, according to Christina Greer, Assistant Professor of Political Science. Cuomo has a strong fundraising edge over Teachout, having recently raised $23 million from individual donors according to state filings. 

Recent polling by NBC 4 New York, The Wall Street Journal and Marist College has shown that most Democratic voters do not know who Teachout is. 

However, “as Eric Cantor has shown us, just because you have more money and name recognition, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a slam dunk, because we know that in a primary, especially in a non-presidential year, turnout is incredibly low,” Greer said. 

Since entering the Democratic primary, Teachout has faced opposition from Cuomo in regards to her candidacy. In the beginning of August, Cuomo’s campaign contested Teachout’s residency, arguing that Teachout had not lived in New York State long enough to run for Governor. 

Article 4, section 2 of the NewYork State constitution states that “no person shall be eligible to the office of governor or lieutenant-governor, except a citizen of the United States, of the age of not less than thirty years, and who shall have been five years next preceding the election a resident of this state.”

Justice Edgar G. Walker of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn ruled that Teachout was a resident of New York State for the necessary five years required by the state constitution on Aug. 11. Justice Walker wrote that “although Zephyr R. Teachout has resided in several different residencies within the City of New York since 2009, while maintaining close connections to her childhood domicile of Vermont, that is nothing more than an ambiguity in the residency calculus.” 

Justice Walker went on to write that the “burden in this proceeding is not on Teachout to establish residency, but rather, upon the petitioners to establish by clear and convincing evidence that she does not meet the residency requirements.” The Cuomo campaign appealed the decision, but on Wednesday, Aug. 20, New York State appeals court upheld the ruling. 

“In a non-presidential election year, [Cuomo] knows that turn out is incredibly low, so it would be essentially much easier if he had no one to run against,” Greer said. “He can pretty much assume the people who would turn out would be turning out for him.”

Cuomo has also ignored calls by the Teachout campaign for debate. “It’s very difficult to debate women. It’s very, very difficult to debate smart women because you can’t come across as condescending or man-splaining,” Greer said. “By debating her, he would be acknowledging that she is actually an equal.” 

The winner of the Democratic primary will face off against GOP candidate Rob Astorino, FCRH ’89 in the general election.


Janitor Rashim Grays is one of many FCLC’s night-time workers. (Nanor Hartounian/The Observer)

Staff Writer
Published: October 16, 2013

There are many people who work tirelessly in order to ensure that Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) runs smoothly everyday. While faculty members, security guards and those who work at the Ram Café contribute immensely to the well-being of the college, there are certain individuals who play essential roles that are, unfortunately, usually overlooked: this includes the nighttime janitors. They can be described as invisible maintenance patrolmen who roam FCLC’s halls, taking care of anything that needs attention.

Janitor Rashim Grays is one of many FCLC’s night-time workers. (Nanor Hartounian/The Observer)
Janitor Rashim Grays is one of many FCLC’s night-time workers. (Nanor Hartounian/The Observer)

Take janitor Rashim Grays. Grays has been working at FCLC for two years. Typically, his night shift runs from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. He is responsible for cleaning the bathrooms in the Leon Lowenstein academic building, as well as cleaning its staircases three times a week. He also makes sure that Fordham University School of Law is kept in tip-top shape.

“Maintaining the 12th floor is pretty important,” Grays said, when referring to one of the more significant aspects of his job. He mentioned that this is where the president of Fordham, Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J., and other important individuals tend to be when at FCLC.

While Grays also works part-time during the day, he states that he prefers the night shift.

“It’s more quiet at night, and there aren’t a lot of students,” he said. “When there are [students], it can be tough to get anything done.” However, one perk of working during the day is seeing the familiar, friendly faces of certain Fordham students that he has befriended. For example, there is a particular student by the name of J.T. whom Grays sees regularly and describes as always having a guitar.

There is more to Grays than meets the eye. He has a number of exciting and diverse aspirations that he plans on pursuing in the future. In addition to his janitorial duties, he dedicates a lot of his time to writing and producing music in his own home studio. Interestingly enough, Grays has actually produced a song for J.T.

Grays and one of his friends (fun fact: his friend produced music for rapper A$AP Rocky!) are music partners and are known as 183rd, named after the block they used to live on. Since Grays plays the piano, he is also able to incorporate the sounds of other instruments, such as the organ, through his keyboard,

In addition to his musical goals, Grays also has academic ambitions. A perk of working at Fordham is being able to receive tuition remission, the opportunity to take classes for free or at a discount. Grays is planning to take courses in computer science in the near future.

While he uses computers to produce music, he would also like to learn more about other elements like coding. Even though Grays would prefer solely focusing on music, he recognizes that it is better to have a few options. “I never put all of my eggs in one basket, no matter how good I am.”

Since Halloween is fast approaching, it seemed fitting to ask Grays whether he’s ever had a strange experience while roaming Fordham’s halls at night. “They say that there is a ghost on the 12th floor,” he said (it’s a good thing he always makes sure that floor is spotless!). Nevertheless, Grays doesn’t let this myth freak him out. He said that, like other tough-skinned and not easily amused New Yorkers, a ghost has to physically appear in front of him for him to feel freaked out. “It’s just how we are,” Grays said.

Faculty members call for “clear statement of the basis for these funding and censorship decisions” from McShane and Fordham administration.

Managing Editor
Published: November 15, 2012
Updated: 8:20pm

Tracy Higgins, professor of law at Fordham Law, and Bridgette Dunlap, Human Rights Fellow at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, with support and input from other Fordham Law faculty members, have written an open letter to Fordham President Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J. in response to the funding of Ann Coulter’s Fordham visit, originally scheduled for Nov. 29 but since has been cancelled. The letter, circulated to Fordham Law faculty by professor of law Steve Thel, asks for a clear stance from the administration on its previously inconsistent support, both in promotion and funding policies, of student groups and events. The letter also asks for support from the student body through a petition form at the bottom of their address to McShane.

The group calls for “a clear statement of the basis for these funding and censorship decisions in light of their manifest inconsistency.”

(Kyle Cassidy/Wikimedia Commons)

“Though the College Republicans withdrew the invitation to Ms. Coulter in light of the outcry from their peers, the problem remains that the University was willing to allocate over $10,000 to this event even while denying funding to other student and departmental initiatives featuring speakers or topics with which it disagrees,” the letter reads.

While the writer celebrates McShane’s decision to distance the university from Coulter’s message it continues to say that “we remain deeply troubled, however, by the University’s inconsistency regarding which events it denies funding or otherwise censors on campus,” specifically bringing the examples of the Vagina Monologues, a controversial event by Fordham undergraduates each year to raise awareness of violence against women.

“[I]t was a wonderful statement that Father McShane made and a very robust defense of academic freedom, discourse, and dialogue, and we want to be sure that we are living up to that and it doesn’t seem that we are,” Dunlap said.

The group also mentions administration’s opposition to Fordham’s pro-choice advocacy while anti-abortion clubs recieve school funding and the red tape faced by Prescribe Fordham 2 events, an off-campus birth control clinic night, in attempting to post flyers in Fordham.

“I think that’s pretty problematic and not reflective of the kind of place Fordham is,” Dunlap said of Fordham’s discrimination between forms of student involvement.”Fordham is a place where we have scholarship and debate and respectful discussion of different ideas. So, we shouldn’t be silencing the legitimate conversations that we ought to be having.”

“Why are these forms of student expression and association denied support while the Coulter event was not? Is pro-choice advocacy or the Vagina Monologues more inconsistent with the University’s mission than Coulter’s hate speech you rightly decry? Are they less entitled to respect in the free exchange of ideas in the Academy?”

While they may be disappointed in the administration for its lack of consistent action, Dunlap said it was “fortunate” how the Coulter disagreement was handled by students.

“I have been very impressed by the poise and constructiveness and thoughtfulness of the undergraduate groups that I have seen working on some of these issues. T]he undergraduates worked it out amongst themselves and I think that is a situation where the solution to what was likely to be pretty problematic speech was more speech and that the undergraduates appealed to each other. I think that is wonderful.”

To read the open letter to McShane in its entirety or to voice your support of the response, click here.

Arts and Culture Co-Editor and Multimedia Producer
Published: April 10, 2012

Former Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain spoke to more than a hundred Fordham Law students at McNally Amphitheater on Tuesday as part of his nationwide ‘Solutions Revolution’ tour which was sponsored by the Law School’s chapter of The Federalist Society and Fordham Law Republicans. Cain spoke of his ‘9-9-9′ tax plan and emphasized the importance “to lead a nation where our children and grandchildren can reach their American dream” as he  said he did when he rose through the corporate ladders of Burger King to becoming CEO of the Godfather Pizzeria chain and finally a candidate for President of the United States.

Cain responded to questioning pertaining to why he was still involved with politics despite his dropping out of the presidential race due to sexual harassment allegations in December. He said he is “still on a mission to help change the direction of this country,” reiterating the he “did not want to see this country go into total financial collapse.”

The Observer had the opportunity to interview Cain before he spoke at McNally Amphitheater.

Cain will hold his own rally this Sunday, April 15, in an attempt to persuade members of Congress to adopt his “9-9-9″ tax plan called “Cain’s Revolution on the Hill Rally and Patriot Summit.” Cain plans to gather an “army of Davids” to fight back against “Goliath,” or the threat of big government.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain announced he'll suspend his campaign for presidency in Atlanta, Georgia, Saturday, December 3, 2011. (Jason Getz/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain will speak at Fordham Law School on April 10 in the McNally Amphitheater. (Jason Getz/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)

Arts & Culture Co-Editor and Multimedia Manager
Published: April 2, 2012

Former Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain will visit Fordham’s Law School next week to speak about his “Solutions Revolution.” Topics will include his presidential campaign and his proposed “9-9-9″ tax deal, which would impose a nine percent tax on corporate income, personal income and sales tax. The event is sponsored by the Law School’s chapter of The Federalist Society and Fordham Law Republicans.

This past December, Cain dropped out of the presidential race for the Republican nomination due to sexual harassment allegations from multiple women with whom he worked during his time as head of National Restaurant Association in the early 1990s. According to a Los Angeles Times article, Cain reportedly said there was a “cloud of doubt over me and this campaign” in regards to the number of allegations that came forward leading up to his campaign termination.

Cain, who was originally CEO of the Godfather Pizzeria chain, will speak on Tuesday, April 10, at 12:30 pm at McNally Amphitheater. For more updates on Cain’s visit to the Law School, visit www.fordhamobserver.com

Matt Surrusco/The Observer
By Matt Surrusco, Arts and Culture Co-Editor 

Speakers answer questions from the audience at the April 9 conference on Sudan's post-referendum challenges at Fordham Law School. Matt Surrusco/The Observer

Academics, policymakers, activists and students convened at Fordham Law School on April 9 for a conference on Sudan’s post-referendum challenges.

The conference, sponsored by Fordham University’s department of African and African-American studies, focused on how North and South Sudan can best avoid a renewal of conflict following a January referendum in which Southern Sudanese voted overwhelmingly for separation from the North.

“The main objective was to bring academics, policymakers and members of the public together to discuss the post-referendum challenges,” said Amir Idris, associate professor of African studies and associate chair of the department, who organized the conference. In his opening remarks, Idris said he hoped to have “a candid conversation about the issues,” including border demarcation, oil revenue sharing and citizenship status, and offer a “fresh vision for peaceful coexistence after separation.”

Speakers included Suliman Baldo, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Transitional Justice, who delivered the keynote address, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, representative of the Government of Southern Sudan in the United States, Laura Jones, Sudan policy analyst at the Enough Project, and Ali Dinar, associate director of the African Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, permanent representative of the Republic of Sudan to the United Nations, and Laura Beny, professor of law at the University of Michigan, both of whom were scheduled to speak, were unable to attend.

“The core issues that need to be addressed have not been approached,” Baldo said, referring to the need for the National Congress Party (NCP), the northern ruling party based in the capital Khartoum, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the southern ruling party based in Juba, to resolve unsettled issues prior to July 9 when south Sudan will become an independent state.

Baldo focused on the citizenship issue in his address, citing that many Southern Sudanese live in the North and Northern Sudanese live in the South, thus their citizenship status will need to be resolved in order for the two states to avoid a potential return to violence following official separation. Some solutions he offered include establishing a “soft border” between North and South Sudan that would allow for the movement of peoples, grazing cattle and goods across the border, as well as dual citizenship for Sudanese living in the border region.

The issue of citizenship is marked by “Khartoum’s mindset of using populations as military tools,” Baldo said, explaining that the NCP’s militarization of ethnic groups in the border region and south is “part of the power game.” He said that citizenship receives the least attention of the three core issues, but needs to be focused on. “All the wars of Sudan are identity wars…[Sudanese] are fighting against economic, political, social and cultural marginalization.”

Baldo said that Sudan should be “a government for all Sudanese, not just some of them.”

Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, which ended a two-decades-long civil war between the NCP and SPLM, “We have failed to transform Sudan into a better society,” Gatkuoth, a former Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier, said.

Sudan owes the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank $38 billion, according to Gatkuoth. He said South Sudan should not have to contribute to the payment of foreign debts because the South did not see the benefits of foreign money, in the form of development and infrastructure.

After July 9, Southern Sudanese will no longer hold Khartoum accountable; Juba will be held accountable, according to Gatkuoth. The SPLM is working to build institutions, fight corruption and uphold the rule of law, he said.

In regards to the issue of oil revenue sharing, Gatkuoth said, “For now the position is very clear: we are not sharing our oil.” He said the South would pay for use of northern pipelines in order to transport oil to seaports, “but that’s it.”

“The country that will have the largest embassy [in South Sudan] is Northern Sudan,” Gatkuoth said. Destabilization of the South or North would be harmful for the other country.

Jones outlined the security challenges in South Sudan, specifically noting the proliferation of various militias, some likely armed by the NCP in an effort to destabilize the SPLM government, she said. “The SPLA’s approach to militias has been to offer amnesty and integration [to rebel soldiers].”

Tensions with the North and inter-tribal conflict, which are both related to the militias issue, are additional security challenges, Jones said. The South should invest more in infrastructure, demobilize and demilitarize militias, integrate and size down the SPLA, establish a civilian police force and ensure good governance, rule of law, a free press and democratic elections in order to reduce the reasons to rebel and improve the security situation, according to Jones.

The conference was held in McNally Amphitheater and ran about an hour longer than scheduled due to multiple questions and comments from audience members.