Tags Posts tagged with "Ian McKenna"

Ian McKenna

Core members of the S.A.G.E.S. coalition meet to discuss what going public means and what the next steps are. From left to right, Alexandra Leen, FCRH ’16, Rachel Field, Wilmarie Cintron-Muniz and Beth Chang, all FCRH ’15. (Ian McKenna / The Observer)
Core members of the S.A.G.E.S. coalition meet to discuss what going public means and what the next steps are. From left to right, Alexandra Leen, FCRH ’16, Rachel Field, Wilmarie Cintron-Muniz and Beth Chang, all FCRH ’15. (Ian McKenna / The Observer)
Core members of the S.A.G.E.S. coalition meet to discuss what going public means and what the next steps are. From left to right, Alexandra Leen, FCRH ’16, Rachel Field, Wilmarie Cintron-Muniz and Beth Chang, all FCRH ’15. (Ian McKenna / The Observer)

By IAN MCKENNA
Features Editor
Published: November 5, 2014

The automatic sliding doors of Hughes Hall open up and Wilmarie Cintron-Muniz, College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’15, walks along the lobby until we see each other. I am sitting next to some Gabelli students working together on a project. The refuse of the day’s edition of the Financial Times sits between us, and we both pick at it between discussions about midterms and what we are doing for the coming Halloweekend. As we wait for the other members of the conversation to arrive, she tells me her family is visiting for Family Weekend, and she is planning a scavenger hunt for her little brother.

With modern furniture and young business professionals milling around the lounge in suits and ties, the setting doesn’t seem in harmony with the conversation we are about to have.

Cintron-Muniz is one of the core members of the Students for Sex and Gender Equality and Safety (S.A.G.E.S.) Coalition, a group on campus that has so-far operated anonymously in its fight for sex-positivity and safety on campus. I have been in contact with the group for a couple of weeks, having first met Cintron-Muniz at Ram Town, where she and other S.A.G.E.S. members had been collecting signatures on their petition. Now, on Oct. 29, they are discussing what it means to go public and just how they are going to do it.

As the rest of the group trickles in, we find that the noise in the lounge is becoming too much, or maybe that the distance between our congregation and the financiers’ group study at the next table is a little too close for comfort. It is a beautiful day for late October and we move outside, from the clinical interior of the business building.

I naively ask who the leader of the movement is. “Or is this an Occupy Wall Street type of thing?”

Rachel Field, FCRH ’15, laugh and tells me, while it isn’t Occupy Wall Street, there is no “leader,” but rather some people who are more involved then others. We sit at the circular table outside of Hughes with some of the “core” members of the coalition at Rose Hill. Field, who evokes a Rosie the Riveter style with a red patterned headscarf, sits to my left, Cintron-Muniz to her left, Alexandra Leen, FCRH ’16, to her left, and Beth Chang, FCRH ’15, to my right.

We begin with the origin story of S.A.G.E.S. Field says she has been an activist for six years, working with such groups as Women Organized to Resist and Defend (W.O.R.D.) and Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.). “I was talking over the summer with a bunch of my W.O.R.D. comrades and we were just talking about Hobby Lobby and everything that was going on with Hobby Lobby,” she says. One of the women makes a noise of disgust. “Don’t even get me started,” Field says.

“[W.O.R.D. had organized] a protest and only about ten people showed up,” Field says. “We were really disappointed. These are huge issues that are really affecting us, so how is it that only ten people showed up? And it got me thinking about how Hobby Lobby is related to what is going on here at Fordham and it got the wheels going. ‘You know what, change starts from our communities.’”

The S.A.G.E.S. movement, then, is a very real reaction not only to the traditional value-influenced policies of Fordham but also the present political climate.

“This moment in time is very specific,” Cintron-Muniz adds. “We are closer than ever before of the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned. I think that there have just been a lot of things building up over the past five or ten years that have been specifically targeted against women being able to access birth control, women being able to access healthcare and, in general, a lot of things with access and just our basic safety and health. Not just at Fordham, I’m talking about country-wide movement to limit women’s decision-making ability.”

“I feel like campus right now is ready for this to happen,” Leen says. She mentions the findings of the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education which said Fordham led Jesuit schools in on-campus sexual assault claims filed between 2010 and 2012. “[The administration was] trying to figure out what to do, where to start, if something like this happened, how to help the person this happened to. And I don’t understand how they can do that without promoting sex positivity and promoting birth control and condoms and basically general information about sex.”

This is one of their main points of contention; the lack of a basic dialogue, both when it comes to sex and sexual education and safety as well as the problems they, as a renegade club not approved by the Office of Student Leadership and Community Development partaking in “guerrilla activism,” as one Ram columnist wrote.

“Dean [of Students at Rose Hill Christopher] Rodgers talks a lot about the culture of campus, how we are the agents of cultural change on campus, because we create the culture here,” Cintron-Muniz says. “We are trying to build a culture that includes sex-positivity, includes people being able to make decisions for themselves, and having the tools to be able to make all the possible decisions that they could make, that are healthy in positive ways. And we can’t create that culture if it is outlawed on campus, essentially.”

Earlier that day, Dean Rodgers had canceled a meeting with S.A.G.E.S. At the time of our group interview, he or his office had not rescheduled.

A major issue with the Fordham administration for the members of S.A.G.E.S. is their seemingly long list of assumptions.

“There is an assumption by some of the deans that everybody just knows sex and knows how to take care of that,” Leen says. “And when you are recruiting from such a huge base of schools that are just like Fordham, that have had rules like this, some people have had no health education. We are in college now and if there were ever a time to do it, then it would be now, to learn about sex.”

Another assumption is the students’ willingness to reflect on these larger issues internally. “I think that there is an assumption that we can just talk about this amongst ourselves and obviously some people did do that and some people are ready for that and some people are super self-studied or are in classrooms where they are discussing these types of things,” Cintron-Muniz says, but for others, we have to make the conversation, she argues, “If we are going to be proactive about these things, it is super important because people get hurt because of these things, because they don’t know what consent is, because they don’t know how to put on a condom right.”

But making conversation and causing cultural change isn’t easily accomplished, and being an anonymous group doesn’t help. Aside from petitioning around campus, weekly meetings and posting fliers not approved by the Office of Student Leadership and Community Development  around campus, the campaign has really been one fought on the web, through a Facebook page, a Change.org petition, a Twitter account and a Tumblr site.

“As an organizer for so long,” Field says, “one thing I’ll tell you is that you can’t organize on the Internet. You can’t organize on a blog. You can’t organize without having conversations with people, face-to-face. When we have face-to-face conversations, we build a movement.”

“We are also real people. Coming forward, the stories we tell are not abstract. They are not something that Dean Rodgers can write-off as some sort of willy, nilly, frilly thing,” Field says. “It is something that happened to somebody, it is a real issue that is in your face and you need to deal with it. It is not just me, my story, my personal story. It’s every personal story, of everybody in S.A.G.E.S. and all of their friends and everyone they know and they bring that to the table and it becomes real when people realize there is a name to a face and there is an experience to the face.”

The consensus seems to be, at least for the four women at the table, that going public can only strengthen their cause.

Field also hopes that it will allow them to stop operating in the shadows. “I think going public is really the big moment in which we say ‘We are here to stay.’ S.A.G.E.S. is not something that will go away. It’s not something you can push away. It’s not something you can stop. It is something that will keep going because there is such a huge power base behind us. It’s 1,000 student signatures.

The sun has just about set and the Bronx night chill is setting in. The DJ playing the contemporary hits is packing his stuff up as the rest of Campus Activity Board starts packing up the tables and activities set up alongside Edward’s Parade. Over by the McGinley Center, students prepare for a vigil for victims of police brutality. We begin to wrap up our conversation so the activists at our table can attend the event.

“I think that people will definitely try to stop us and it will be easier for them to try when they know who we are,” Leen, the only member at the table who won’t be graduating in May, says before I turn the recorder off. “I don’t think that is going to stop us, though.”

They’ve finalized their plan to go public. The date and time are set; Nov. 3, 12:30 p.m.

It’s 12:15 p.m. on Nov. 3.

“I don’t want to have to call people,” Rachel Field, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’15, said as a group of S.A.G.E.S. members met in front of Cunniffe House, “but this is important and they should be here.”

The group of about five students at 12:15 p.m. on Nov. 3 doubled to about 10 before they had decided to enter the administration’s building to deliver their petition, calling for several changes to Fordham’s policies on sexual health resources and education, free speech policies and trans student treatment, to Fordham President Rev. Joseph M. McShane.

“We are representing the 1,100 students who signed our petition,” Field said, leading the group into the building.

Once inside, they found a huge set of double doors.

They knocked.

And then they knocked again.

“I guess he’s not going to be here. Let’s begin the taping,” Field said, ripping a piece of tape off with her teeth.

“Does anybody have scissors?” another protester asked.

Halfway through posting all sheets of the petition on the double doors, a security supervisor arrived. He allowed the protesters to finish.

“If you put it in the middle like that, it’ll rip when you open the door,” the security supervisor said as protesters were figuring out where to put the letter addressed to McShane which demanded a meeting between him and members of S.A.G.E.S. before Nov. 7.

“If we don’t get a response back by Friday, we are going to escalate the situation,” Field said. “When students speak, they must be heard, and if we aren’t going to be heard, then that’s what it is going to have to be.”

This escalation refers specifically to a Nov. 20 rally, “which will be called off if our demands are met,” Field said. They are planning on inviting organizations to Fordham for a protest; prospective guests include Women Organized to Resist and Defend (W.O.R.D.), Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.) Coalition and the Latina Institute.

W.O.R.D. has organized a letter writing campaign.

The protestors left Cunniffe house about five minutes after entering, preparing to host a speak-out to get students on campus involved in their cause.

Assistant Vice President of Public Safety John Carroll was alerted of the situation and was called to the scene. Once he arrived, he asked to speak with an organizer.

“He was like, ‘I can bring that to Father McShane if you want,’” Field said, retelling her interaction with Carroll. “If you want to go take it down, you can. That’s crazy. This is a f*cking police state.”

“Well, what happened is that Rachel asked that the petition be delivered to Father McShane, and I will make sure that happens for her,” Carroll said. “One of my supervisors went to get the petition, and I’ll make sure Father McShane gets it.”

While S.A.G.E.S. members were asked to move their protest from the middle of the street for their own safety, the administration and the office of public safety had no intentions of stopping their protest. Despite this, the group was followed by two security supervisors during their speak-out.

“The students … united … will never be defeated,” Field began chanting on her way to McGinley Center  as other S.A.G.E.S. members answered her call-and-response.

Once organized in a circle in front of McGinley, other S.A.G.E.S. members, fresh out of class, joined the rally, each telling a personal story about why they support S.A.G.E.S.

“I support S.A.G.E.S. because women’s health is human health,” one student, Sophia, said.

“I support the S.A.G.E.S. coalition because sexual health is a human f*cking right,” Monica Cruz, FCRH ’16, said. “I support the S.A.G.E.S. coalition because religion is not more important than my health.”

“Fordham recognizes that there is–and should be– a diversity of opinion on matters of faith at a Catholic university, especially a Jesuit one,” Bob Howe, senior director of communications, said in a written statement when asked for an official response from the administration.

“We are nonetheless committed to the teachings of the Church, and as a part of our mission, we model those teachings for our students, including those on contraception. In this we seek to strike a balance between individual conscience–our students are free to possess and use any form of birth control they choose–and endorsing behaviors that run counter to Church teachings.”

“For this reason,” the statement continues, “Fordham neither distributes, nor permits distribution of contraceptives. The only exception to this policy is the prescription of birth control pills for medical reason unrelated to contraception.”

During the protest, Field challenges this idea.

“I suffer from ovarian cysts. And because of Fordham’s policies, I had to get surgery for a hernia that was caused by ovarian cyst ruptures,” Field said. “I had repeatedly asked Fordham to give me contraceptives, with a medical letter, and was denied.”


By IAN McKENNA
Features Editor
Published: November 4, 2014

“I don’t want to have to call people,” Rachel Field, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’15, said as a group of S.A.G.E.S. members met in front of Cunniffe House, “but this is important and they should be here.”

The group of about five students at 12:15 p.m. on Nov. 3 doubled to about 10 before they had decided to enter the administration’s building to deliver their petition, calling for several changes to Fordham’s policies on sexual health resources and education, free speech policies and trans student treatment, to Fordham President Rev. Joseph M. McShane.

“We are representing the 1,100 students who signed our petition,” Field said, leading the group into the building.

Once inside, they found a huge set of double doors.

They knocked.

And then they knocked again.

“I guess he’s not going to be here. Let’s begin the taping,” Field said, ripping a piece of tape off with her teeth.

“Does anybody have scissors?” another protester asked.

Halfway through posting all sheets of the petition on the double doors, a security supervisor arrived. He allowed the protesters to finish.

“If you put it in the middle like that, it’ll rip when you open the door,” the security supervisor said as protesters were figuring out where to put the letter addressed to McShane which demanded a meeting between him and members of S.A.G.E.S. before Nov. 7.

“If we don’t get a response back by Friday, we are going to escalate the situation,” Field said. “When students speak, they must be heard, and if we aren’t going to be heard, then that’s what it is going to have to be.”

This escalation refers specifically to a Nov. 20 rally, “which will be called off if our demands are met,” Field said. They are planning on inviting organizations to Fordham for a protest; prospective guests include Women Organized to Resist and Defend (W.O.R.D.), Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.) Coalition and the Latina Institute.

W.O.R.D. has organized a letter writing campaign.

The protestors left Cunniffe house about five minutes after entering, preparing to host a speak-out to get students on campus involved in their cause.

Assistant Vice President of Public Safety John Carroll was alerted of the situation and was called to the scene. Once he arrived, he asked to speak with an organizer.

“He was like, ‘I can bring that to Father McShane if you want,'” Field said, retelling her interaction with Carroll. “If you want to go take it down, you can. That’s crazy. This is a f*cking police state.”

“Well, what happened is that Rachel asked that the petition be delivered to Father McShane, and I will make sure that happens for her,” Carroll said. “One of my supervisors went to get the petition, and I’ll make sure Father McShane gets it.”

While S.A.G.E.S. members were asked to move their protest from the middle of the street for their own safety, the administration and the office of public safety had no intentions of stopping their protest. Despite this, the group was followed by two security supervisors during their speak-out.

“The students … united … will never be defeated,” Field began chanting on her way to McGinley Center  as other S.A.G.E.S. members answered her call-and-response.

Once organized in a circle in front of McGinley, other S.A.G.E.S. members, fresh out of class, joined the rally, each telling a personal story about why they support S.A.G.E.S.

“I support S.A.G.E.S. because women’s health is human health,” one student, Sophia, said.

“I support the S.A.G.E.S. coalition because sexual health is a human f*cking right,” Monica Cruz, FCRH ’16, said. “I support the S.A.G.E.S. coalition because religion is not more important than my health.”

“Fordham recognizes that there is–and should be– a diversity of opinion on matters of faith at a Catholic university, especially a Jesuit one,” Bob Howe, senior director of communications, said in a written statement when asked for an official response from the administration.

“We are nonetheless committed to the teachings of the Church, and as a part of our mission, we model those teachings for our students, including those on contraception. In this we seek to strike a balance between individual conscience–our students are free to possess and use any form of birth control they choose–and endorsing behaviors that run counter to Church teachings.”

“For this reason,” the statement continues, “Fordham neither distributes, nor permits distribution of contraceptives. The only exception to this policy is the prescription of birth control pills for medical reason unrelated to contraception.”

During the protest, Field challenges this idea.

“I suffer from ovarian cysts. And because of Fordham’s policies, I had to get surgery for a hernia that was caused by ovarian cyst ruptures,” Field said. “I had repeatedly asked Fordham to give me contraceptives, with a medical letter, and was denied.”

Core members of the S.A.G.E.S. coalition meet to discuss what going public means and what the next steps are. From left to right, Alexandra Leen, FCRH '14, Rachel Field, Wilmarie Cintron-Muniz and Beth Chang, all FCRH '15. (Ian McKenna/The Observer)
Core members of the S.A.G.E.S. coalition meet to discuss what going public means and what the next steps are. From left to right, Alexandra Leen, FCRH '14, Rachel Field, Wilmarie Cintron-Muniz and Beth Chang, all FCRH '15. (Ian McKenna/The Observer)
Core members of the S.A.G.E.S. coalition meet to discuss what going public means and what the next steps are. From left to right, Alexandra Leen, FCRH ’16, Rachel Field, Wilmarie Cintron-Muniz and Beth Chang, all FCRH ’15. (Ian McKenna/The Observer)

By IAN McKENNA
Features Editor
Published: November 3, 2014

The automatic sliding doors of Hughes Hall open up and Wilmarie Cintron-Muniz, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’15, walks along the lobby until we see each other. I am sitting next to some Gabelli students working together on a project. The refuse of the day’s edition of the Financial Times sits between us, and we both pick at it between discussions about midterms and what we are doing for the coming Halloweekend. As we wait for the other members of the conversation to arrive, she tells me her family is visiting for Family Weekend and she is planning a scavenger hunt for her little brother.

With modern furniture and young business professionals milling around the lounge in suits and ties, the setting doesn’t seem in harmony with the conversation we are about to have.

Cintron-Muniz is one of the core members of the Students for Sex and Gender Equality and Safety (S.A.G.E.S.) Coalition, a group on campus that has so-far operated anonymously in its fight for sex-positivity and safety on campus. I have been in contact with the group for a couple of weeks, having first met Cintron-Muniz at Ram Town, where she and other S.A.G.E.S. members had been collecting signatures on their petition. Now, on Oct. 29, they are discussing what it means to go public and just how they are going to do it.

As the rest of the group trickles in, we find that the noise in the lounge is becoming too much, or maybe that the distance between our congregation and the financiers’ group study at the next table is a little too close for comfort. It is a beautiful day for late October and we move outside, from the clinical interior of the business building to a small table in the plaza just in front of Hughes.

I naively ask who the leader of the movement is. “Or is this an Occupy Wall Street type of thing?”

Rachel Field, FCRH ’15, laugh and tells me, while it isn’t Occupy Wall Street, there is no “leader,” but rather some people who are more involved then others. We sit at the circular table outside of Hughes with some of the “core” members of the coalition at Rose Hill. Field, who evokes a Rosie the Riveter style with a red patterned headscarf, sits to my left, Cintron-Muniz to her left, Alexandra Leen, FCRH ’16, to her left, and Beth Chang, FCRH ’15, to my right.

We begin with the origin story of S.A.G.E.S. Field says she has been an activist for six years, working with such groups as Women Organized to Resist and Defend (W.O.R.D.) and Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.). “I was talking over the summer with a bunch of my W.O.R.D. comrades and we were just talking about Hobby Lobby and everything that was going on with Hobby Lobby,” she says. One of the women makes a noise of disgust. “Don’t even get me started,” Field says.

“[W.O.R.D. had organized] a protest and only about ten people showed up,” Field says. “We were really disappointed. These are huge issues that are really affecting us, so how is it that only ten people showed up? And it got me thinking about how Hobby Lobby is related to what is going on here at Fordham and it got the wheels going. ‘You know what, change starts from our communities.’”

The S.A.G.E.S. movement, then, is a very real reaction not only to the traditional value-influenced policies of Fordham but also the present political climate.

“This moment in time is very specific,” Cintron-Muniz adds. “We are closer than ever before of the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned. I think that there have just been a lot of things building up over the past five or ten years that have been specifically targeted against women being able to access birth control, women being able to access healthcare and, in general, a lot of things with access and just our basic safety and health. Not just at Fordham, I’m talking about country-wide movement to limit women’s decision-making ability.”

“I feel like campus right now is ready for this to happen,” Leen says. She mentions the findings of the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education which said Fordham led Jesuit schools in on-campus sexual assault claims filed between 2010 and 2012. “[The administration was] trying to figure out what to do, where to start, if something like this happened, how to help the person this happened to. And I don’t understand how they can do that without promoting sex positivity and promoting birth control and condoms and basically general information about sex.”

This is one of their main points of contention; the lack of a basic dialogue, both when it comes to sex and sexual education and safety as well as the problems they, as a renegade club not approved by the Office of Student Leadership and Community Development partaking in “guerrilla activism,” as one Ram columnist wrote.

“Dean Rodgers talks a lot about the culture of campus, how we are the agents of cultural change on campus, because we create the culture here,” Cintron-Muniz says. “We are trying to build a culture that includes sex-positivity, includes people being able to make decisions for themselves, and having the tools to be able to make all the possible decisions that they could make, that are healthy in positive ways. And we can’t create that culture if it is outlawed on campus, essentially.”

Earlier that day, Dean Rodgers had canceled a meeting with S.A.G.E.S. At the time of our group interview, he or his office had not rescheduled.

A major issue with the Fordham administration for the members of S.A.G.E.S. is their seemingly long list of assumptions.

“There is an assumption by some of the deans that everybody just knows sex and knows how to take care of that,” Leen says. “And when you are recruiting from such a huge base of schools that are just like Fordham, that have had rules like this, some people have had no health education. We are in college now and if there were ever a time to do it, then it would be now, to learn about sex.”

Another assumption is the students’ willingness to reflect on these larger issues internally. “I think that there is an assumption that we can just talk about this amongst ourselves and obviously some people did do that and some people are ready for that and some people are super self-studied or are in classrooms where they are discussing these types of things,” Cintron-Muniz says, but for others, we have to make the conversation, she argues. “If we are going to be proactive about these things, it is super important because people get hurt because of these things, because they don’t know what consent is, because they don’t know how to put on a condom right.”

But making conversation and causing cultural change isn’t easily accomplished, and being an anonymous group doesn’t help. Besides from petitioning around campus, weekly meetings and posting fliers not approved by OSLCD around campus, the campaign has really been one fought on the web, through a Facebook page, a Change.org petition, a Twitter account and a Tumblr site.

“As an organizer for so long,” Field says, “one thing I’ll tell you is that you can’t organize on the Internet. You can’t organize on a blog. You can’t organize without having conversations with people, face-to-face. When we have face-to-face conversations, we build a movement.”

“We are also real people. Coming forward, the stories we tell are not abstract. They are not something that Dean Rodgers can write-off as some sort of willy, nilly, frilly thing,” Field says. “It is something that happened to somebody, it is a real issue that is in your face and you need to deal with it. It is not just me, my story, my personal story. It’s every personal story, of everybody in S.A.G.E.S. and all of their friends and everyone they know and they bring that to the table and it becomes real when people realize there is a name to a face and there is an experience to the face.”

The consensus seems to be, at least for the four women at the table, that going public can only strengthen their cause.

Field also hopes that it will allow them to stop operating in the shadows. “I think going public is really the big moment in which we say ‘We are here to stay.’ S.A.G.E.S. is not something that will go away. It’s not something you can push away. It’s not something you can stop. It is something that will keep going because there is such a huge power base behind us. It’s a thousand student signatures.

The sun has just about set and the Bronx night chill is setting in. The DJ playing the contemporary hits is packing his stuff up as the rest of Campus Activity Board starts packing up the tables and activities set up alongside Edward’s Parade. Over by the McGinley Center, students prepare for a vigil for victims of police brutality. We begin to wrap up our conversation so the activists at our table can attend the event.

“I think that people will definitely try to stop us and it will be easier for them to try when they know who we are,” Leen, the only member at the table who won’t be graduating in May, says before I turn the recorder off. “I don’t think that is going to stop us, though.”

They’ve finalized their plan to go public. The date and time are set; Nov. 3, 12:30 p.m.

By IAN McKENNA
Features Editor
Published: October 18, 2014

“I can’t hear you!” a man with his Ram Town t-shirt slung over his shoulder yells over an Ariana Grande song at a Students for Sex & Gender Equality and Safety (S.A.G.E.S.) representative who asked him to sign her petition.

Despite the blasting of pop hits and the hooting and hollering of the crowd throughout the gymnasium on Friday, Oct. 18, S.A.G.E.S. seemed to make the best of the opportunity to reach a mass audience of fellow rams during Ram Town. Their initial count from just a couple of the circulated clipboards was over 400 students.

The petition helped to educate the student population about their demands, as listed on their Tumblr page.

These are the full 8 demands we are asking for, in bold are the 4 demands that we emphasize in our campaign:

  1. Free condoms in accessible community spaces to foster an environment in which students are encouraged to talk about sex in healthy and safe ways
  2. Free and confidential access to birth control and STD testing on campus on a consistent and reliable basis.
  3. GYN services at the Health Center done by GYN professionals
  4. Resources for pregnant women and child care for Fordham community members.
  5. A Free Speech Zone in an open and visible space allowing students to voice concerns and engage in free and open discussion with anyone on campus
  6. Sex positive programming in freshmen orientation that extends into dorm programming or as a sustained dialogue
  7. Eliminate Fordham’s sex-shaming, gendered dorm pass policies, which are paternalistic, infantilizing, and heteronormative. These policies ignore student’s potential for co-ed friendships.
  8. Implement co-ed, non-sex-segregated dorm options for trans and gender non-conforming students so that housing options reflect the breadth of student social and sexual experiences, keeping students safer and happier

By IAN McKENNA
Features Editor
Published: September 24, 2014

“I started Irish dancing at the age of five,” Tyler Tagliaferro, Fordham College at Lincoln Center ’17, said.

“And I thoroughly disliked it.”

But, as the youngest of four children growing up in a half Italian, half Irish family, who were all celebrating their heritage with various activities from the homeland, his mother required him to pursue something.

So, they struck a deal: If Tagliaferro could get first place in a dance competition, she would allow him to quit. Not even four months later, at his first regional competition, Tagliaferro struck gold.

“I danced. I got first place and then I walked off and told my mother that I quit Irish dancing,” Tagliaferro said. After a couple of months, his interest in bagpiping came to the surface.

He counts his official bagpipe anniversary as his 10th birthday, after an on-again-off-again relationship with the bagpipe transformed into a lifelong affair. His 20th birthday last week marks ten years.

Now, he performs in competitions, both with a band and solo, has made the shift from student to teacher of his own pupils and arranges his own music.

The competition season usually spans the summer, but Tagliaferro practices in the off-season as well.

“I play in Central Park for practice and Central Park is really the only place I can go,” Tagliaferro said, “because the soundproof practice rooms here are not soundproof for bagpipes, as many people have told me.”

“I played once on the Plaza,” he said, “and many people screamed out their windows. So Central Park is a nice, public location where I can play bagpipes and not too many people are upset about it.”

“I don’t play for money … officially,” Tagliaferro said. But he leaves his bag open, just in case. He was shocked the first time he played with his case open and got $150, though he averages about $20 for a trip to Central Park.

While he has played funerals, masses and 9/11 memorials throughout his career, the goal going forward is to play for the President in the White House. For now, though, he is happy having performed for the President of the University, the Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J.

Tagliaferro performed on Robert Moses Plaza during the Mass of the Holy Spirit on Sept. 11, 2014 after Rev. Robert R. Grimes, S.J. asked him if he wanted to play.

“I loved it. I’ve always wanted to play at Mass of the Holy Spirit,” Tagliaferro said.

“Father McShane loved it, definitely.”

Tyler Tagliaferro, FCLC '17, practices in Central Park. (Ian McKenna/The Observer)
Tyler Tagliaferro, FCLC ’17, practices in Central Park. (Ian McKenna/The Observer)

 

Danny Glover during the panel following a screening of "Tula: The Revolt." (Ian McKenna/The Observer)

 

Danny Glover during the panel following a screening of "Tula: The Revolt." (Ian McKenna/The Observer)
Danny Glover during the panel following a screening of “Tula: The Revolt.” (Ian McKenna/The Observer)

By IAN McKENNA
Features Editor
Published: September 9, 2014

002
Danny Glover, right, and Yuko Miki, left. (Ian McKenna/The Observer)

“It is hard for this country to deal with the issue of slavery,” Danny Glover, actor, director, producer and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, said during a panel following a screening of “Tula: The Revolt,” on campus on September 9, 2014. “We can’t deal with it. The victims can’t deal with it; it’s hard.”

The screening of “Tula” was organized by the United Nations Remembrance Programme of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the United Nations Academic Impact and Fordham University.

“When I look at what happens in places, like, for instance with Trayvon Martin or in Ferguson and countless other places, you can go on and on, and in some sense there’s a connect line between that,” Glover said. “And once we understand that connect line between that, and that’s why it’s important for films like [‘Tula’ and ‘Beloved’], maybe we will start the healing process. Not only for our selves but for the masses as well.”

Also on the panel were Natasha Lightfoot, professor of history at Columbia University who specializes in slavery and emancipation studies among other topics regarding black identity and history, and Fordham professor Yuko Miki, who specializes in Iberian Atlantic History.

‘Tula: The Revolt,” which stars Glover, tells the true story of the 1795 slave revolt on the Dutch colony island of Curaçao.

003
Panelists Natasha Lightfoot, Yuko Miki and Danny Glover thank each other after the panel. (Ian McKenna/The Observer)

By IAN McKENNA
Features Editor & Multimedia Producer
Published: September 6, 2014

With the arrival of the new school year, we not only welcome textbooks and essays back into our lives, but also a new batch of freshman. Secluded in the exclusive new McKeon Hall, it might be hard to really get a grasp on them, so let’s try to get to know them by the numbers.

Outside McKeon Hall
Outside McKeon Hall
McKeon Hall sits atop the new Fordham Law School. It is also known as "The Tower." (Tyler Martins/The Observer)
9item(s) « 1 of 9 »

By TYLER MARTINS, IAN McKENNA & SARAH HOWARD
Editor-in-Chief, Features Editor & Multimedia Co-Producer, Photo Editor
Published: August 28, 2014

To celebrate the opening of the Fordham Law School and the new freshman residence, McKeon Hall, Observer photographers snapped some shots of what life might look like inside Fordham’s newest building.

By TYLER MARTINS and IAN MCKENNA
Editor-In-Chief, Features Editor and Multimedia Co-Producer
Published: August 28, 2014

For those coming to call Fordham “home” for the first time, the new campus layout will soon become standard. But for those returning to Fordham after a well-deserved  summer vacation, some things will seem very different. Besides the opening of the new freshman residence, McKeon Hall, and the new Fordham Law Building, there have been some changes in Fordham administration and location changes. A message from Rev. Father Grimes, dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, to The Observer outlined some of these key changes.

Communication and Media Studies not only has added a new program, namely New Media and Digital Design, but also a new set of offices. Instead of finding your favorite CMS professor on the fourth floor of Lowenstein, they can now be found on the second floor of 33 W. 60th Street.

The new building at Fordham stands ready and waiting to be used in 2014.
The new building at Fordham stands ready and waiting to be used in 2014. (Kirstin Bunkley/The OBSERVER)

Associate Chair Gwyenth Jackaway wrote to CMS majors, “We are thrilled to be in a wonderfully spacious new set of offices.” Office hours will be announced soon.

Taking advantage of the vacancies left by the communication and media studies department’s move, the history department will now be based out of Lowenstein 422.

“The academic advising office looks rather different,” Grimes wrote.

Josie Grégoire, J.D. will be replacing Joseph Creamer as assistant dean for seniors.

Milton Bravo will be replacing Joseph Desciak as assistant dean for juniors and transfers.

Arleen Pancza Graham is returning as assistant dean for sophomores.

Joseph Desciak, formerly assistant dean for juniors and transfer students, will be returning as assistant dean for first year students, replacing Father Vin DeCola.

Additionaly, Robert Moniot, a professor of computer science, will be returning to the associate dean’s office. Mark Mattson will be making his return to the psychology faculty. He held the position of associate dean for five years.

(Ian McKenna/The Observer)

By IAN MCKENNA
Features Editor and Multimedia Co-Producer
Published: August 28, 2014

Students at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) have recently found that their academic, social and intellectual interests can also be financially beneficial. What’s better? Most are using this financial gain to expand their knowledge by pursuing further and more engaging degrees, eventually aiming to do a lot of good.

Nora Dwyer

Finding out about her Truman Scholarship win was a little jarring for Nora Dwyer, FCLC ’15.

“It was a bit of a delayed reaction, but I got there eventually,” she said. Sitting in her midtown apartment, she received an email from the Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University. “I read it and I don’t think it really registered the first time, so I read it again. I was kind of in shock, so I told my friend and she got really excited and then that made me really excited. Then I had to call my parents and they got very excited, which made me more excited.”

The Truman Scholarship was created as a program to honor President Harry S. Truman by “encourag[ing] educated citizenship and political responsibility,”  according to the Truman Scholarship webpage. To date, the program has supported more than 2,900 students committed to public service.

Dwyer said that it would be difficult to pinpoint a single moment that could adequately mark her interest in public service, but her mother’s dedication to service was very influential. 

“I kind of just grew up around that and I admired her philosophy around it; it’s just important to be kind to people,” Dwyer said of her mother.

Then, coming to Fordham, she began to expand on her own public service. In May 2013, she founded the Student Coalition for Street Outreach after taking an interest in New York City’s homeless population.

“Coming from a small town and not really seeing homelessness as much, you kind of come to New York and you have this initial shock of ‘There are these people living amongst us that are being basically denied their basic rights,’” she said. “I was just disturbed by the general disregard that the homeless population faced and suffered from.” She considered the attitudes of both Fordham and its students and decided that they would make an excellent resource in tackling this issue.  

“Seeing how excited students were to be involved, that’s what made it as successful as it is,” Dwyer said. 

While not completely sure of what her academic future looks like, she is thankful for the opportunities that the Truman Scholarship offers.  In addition to unloading a certain financial burden, Dwyer is looking forward to the network of like-minded, service-driven young adults.

“The community dedicated to public service is one that I am very

(Ian McKenna/The Observer)
(Ian McKenna/The Observer)

Nikolas Oktaba

“An amazing 21st birthday present.” That’s how Nikolas Oktaba, FCLC ’15, describes finding out about his Beinecke Scholarship.

The email announcing his award was sent on his birthday. But ended up in his spam folder.

The next day, he received an email from Dr. John Ryle Kezel, university director of the office of prestigious fellowships, whose birthday was the day immediately after Oktaba’s. 

“Nicholas, it is my birthday today, no April Fool joke. And the best present I received was the news that you got the Beinecke,” Oktaba read.

“I actually did fall of my chair, I got on my knees and started praising God,” Oktaba said.

The Beinecke Scholarship Program, founded in 1971, seeks to “encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them and to be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities and social sciences,” the Beinecke webpage says 

Thanks to this award, Oktaba is able to pursue a graduate degree in the Classics, but with a very specific focus.

“My keenest interest is the LGBT community and my research into the classics is research into questions of gender, questions of identity, questions of sexuality because the classics have informed over 2000 years of discourse on these questions,” Oktaba said. “Classical tradition has been used and sometimes even misused in order to promote a certain view. “

“By looking at these questions of identity, gender and sexuality and disseminating accessible, effective scholarship about these sometimes painful questions, I hope to empower students to look at these painful questions in a deeper manner,” Oktaba said. The goal is not pure scholarship, but a scholarship that can help laymen engage with eternal questions using Classics as a guide. 

Even more specifically within LGBT studies, Oktaba is most interested in transgender issues and the Classics.  As a Diversity Peer Leader with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, trans issues are already a part of his purview. 

“To look at the trans community, it really breaks my heart,” Oktaba said. “This is a community that is suppressed and oppressed, both fetishized and feared, and it is a community whose members are often forced into silence. And my goal is to help break that silence.”

(Ian McKenna/The Observer)
(Ian McKenna/The Observer)

Trevor Haskell

One of 13 Google Lime Scholarship recipients, Trevor Haskell, FCLC ’16, has been interested in computer science and informational technology since high school, where he recalls researching the technology behind BitCoins.

“I just like the problem-solving aspect,” Haskell, a computer science major, said of his passion. “You always have challenging problems you have to solve and it really stimulates the mind.”

According to the Google Lime Scholarship website, the program focuses on encouraging and “helping the innovators of the future [to] make the most of their talents.” 

“The computer science department here is great,” Haskell said, “and there are a lot of really great instructors here and they have helped me a lot, I would say.”

Haskell hopes to continue studying computer science and has a variety of interests for post-grad work. 

“I’m very interested in network and cybersecurity,” Haskell said of his forefront interest. “It is one of the most hotly debated topics and there are a lot of issues, like hacking. There are a lot of cool topics and a lot of cool jobs as well.”