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Laura Chang

Flyers created by a student opinion show the Office of Residential Life’s totalitarian control over residents. (Anthony Porretto/The Observer)

Anonymous Flyers Posted Around McMahon Hall Compare Res Life to a Totalitarian State

By LAURA CHANG
News Editor
Published: Oct. 5, 2011

Controversial propaganda posters representing Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC)’s Office of Residential Life as a totalitarian state led the Res Life office to temporarily remove overnight guest visitation at the dormitories, according to Jenifer Campbell.

Flyers created by a student opinion show the Office of Residential Life’s totalitarian control over residents. (Anthony Porretto/The Observer)

Campbell, director of Residential Life at FCLC, said that there was a series of three posters posted, but she only described two of them. One poster said, “Res Life is watching you,” playing off the Big Brother theme. Another showed Darth Vader with the words “We’re Watching,” and the Office of Residential Life printed below it. These posters were strategically placed around the building, but not on the main floor where security cameras are heavily equipped.

On Sept. 16, a Resident Assistant (RA) on duty was doing routine rounds on the floor when the flyers were first discovered posted around the dormitories in McMahon Hall. The different posters were immediately taken down and the RA contacted the Resident Director. From there, security took the report and notified Res Life about this incident, which prompted Res Life to also take away overnight passes the weekend of Sept. 17-18. “Visitation is a privilege, not a right,” Campbell said.

Keith Eldredge, dean of students at FCLC, said that he was “definitely surprised” upon hearing about this situation, and said, “In some ways I consider this a minor act of vandalism. This type of behavior doesn’t happen at this campus very often, and I try not to be judgmental, but I am surprised and discouraged.”

In addition, Eldredge said that it is always easier to put an opinion out, especially on the Internet and in blogs, while remaining anonymous. He said that he prefers these individuals step up and speak about their issues because, “rarely do you get the same hostility through the phone.”

Campbell said that the removal of the overnight passes for the weekend was a strategy for the office to find out more information from others who may have leads. She said, “Sometimes when other rights get taken away, we find out information from folks about the incident.”

Eldredge also said, “We wanted to put an appropriate level of pressure on the whole so that [the vandals] can recognize that their action affects other people.”

However, some students believed that taking away everyone’s common privileges is not effective.

“When we are not treated like adults, we won’t really want to act like adults,” Daniel Rooney, FCLC ’12, said. “I don’t know what the best way to handle this situation would be, but I don’t think punishing the whole student body is the right thing either.”

Rooney said that he first saw the posters on the 12th floor of McMahon Hall. “I don’t think a freshman would come all the way up to the higher floors just to send out this message.”

He said that he was not surprised by the posters, but rather his initial reaction was that it was funny. “I think everyone who dorms at this school probably encountered some kind of trouble with Res Life. A lot of people get aggravated by them so there would be a lot of suspects.”

Tyler Wilson, FCLC’ 12, also felt the posters were funny. “They were a little bit overwrought in terms of correlating Nazism and Res Life faculty,” Wilson said. He also said that he doesn’t think the posters are wrong because “they’re not hurting anyone.” In regards to the removal of overnight passes, he said, “Why punish everyone for something one or a small group of people did? It’s not that serious.”

As of Sept. 29, Campbell said that they are still working on the case. Res Life has evidence leading to a responsible party, but the identity has not been released.

“We try to have conversations with students about rules associated to the building and we are open to having these conversations to anyone with concerns,” Campbell said.

Eldredge concluded, “Clearly we’re not doing an effective job. So we need to work on finding out what else we need to do when students need help.” He said that, in the future, he would like feedback from Residence Halls Association (RHA) so that they can help improve the communication and exploration of grievances.


By Laura Chang & Natalia Ramirez, Staff Writers

1) Jennifer Clark 

Department:Communication and Media Studies

Experiences Prior to Fordham:I have held the position of visiting assistant professor at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) for two years before this more permanent position of assistant professor. So, while I’m new in the sense of a bureaucratic title, I am not entirely new to Fordham. Before coming here, I held a postdoctoral position at the University of Southern California in the Critical Studies division of Cinematic Arts.

Reaction to the FCLC Experience: My new position allows me to develop more courses that, hopefully, address what students tell me they’re interested in studying. I’m also able to work more productively on my own scholarship with this more permanent role. (And, on a personal level, as I remove “visiting” from my professorial title, I truly call NYC home now.)

Personal Interests/Independent Work: I’m in the process of completing a book on 1970s television and film, gender and geography. I’m also starting a new book on men, contemporary quality television and representations of emotional states.

 

2) Sean Collins, Ph.D.

Department: Economics

Experience Prior to Fordham: I just received my Ph.D. from Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. Aside from getting my Ph.D., I taught several courses there over my years as a graduate student, including basic economics, a math review for incoming Ph.D. students and computational seminars. While I was there, I was a Quinn Fellow and I worked for the Program for Instructional Excellence, a teaching support organization.

Reaction to the FCLC Experience: Being a faculty member at FCLC is a great experience so far. The other faculty and administrators have been extremely welcoming and the students are intelligent, open-minded, and enthusiastic. Having a small class means that I can give each student the individual attention they deserve. And, being in New York offers all sorts of opportunities, both academic and personal. It truly is the Capital of the World.

Personal Interests/Independent Work: My research is in the area of Behavioral Finance. Specifically I’m interested in asset bubbles (when the prices of financial assets diverge from their “true” value for extended periods of time), risk preferences (how people treat uncertainty), and agency problems (when the incentives of owners and management are not aligned–conflicts of interest). I am also interested in social justice from an economic perspective and the intersection of economics and religion, but I mostly read about it–I don’t actively do research in either.

For fun, I’m currently reading “Chasing Goldman Sachs” by Suzanne McGee. The last book I finished was “Moral Markets,” edited by Paul Zak. In terms of hobbies, I am also a somewhat decent artist–I prefer old-fashioned pencil and paper. I haven’t had much time to practice lately.

 

3) Martin DiGrandi, Ph.D.

Department:Natural Science

Experiences Prior to Fordham: I worked as a medicinal chemist in the pharmaceutical industry for 16 years, prior to returning to Fordham.  I am an Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) graduate, class of ’84.  My work experience covered research in infectious diseases, inflammation and cancer, which still interests me greatly.

Reaction to the FCLC Experience: I am thrilled to be a part of the Fordham community once again.  Though my time as an undergraduate was demanding and challenging, my best “school days” were those spent at Fordham and I am so looking forward to teaching the next generation of Fordham graduates.  Additionally, I was born and raised in the City, so being back in NYC is an added bonus.  The FCLC campus is awesome–so much culture to absorb!

Personal Interests/Independent Work: I am desperately trying to get my research underway but setting up a lab is very time consuming and very expensive!  For the record, despite the current daunting economic environment, the University has been extremely generous with me, allowing me to have the instrumentation required for my research in hand by the time I arrived in July. Once my lab is set up, I hope to spend my time, and that of any students willing to work with me, studying how to make compounds from nature better agents for treating a variety of disease states.  This is the tried-and-true method that founded the pharmaceutical industry as we know it and I am very excited about pursuing treatments in the areas of infectious diseases (viral infections, in particular) and cancer.

 

4) Aseel Sawalha

Department:Anthropology

Experiences Prior to Fordham: I finished my Ph.D. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. After that I was an associate professor of Anthropology at Pace University in New York. Before Fordham, I taught the following courses: Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East; Middle East through Film; Global Cultures and Local Identities; Living Under Fire: Women and War; and Anthropological Theories.

Reaction to the FCLC Experience: I am excited about joining the Fordham faculty. I am looking forward working with committed faculty members and a diverse student body.

Personal Interests/Independent Work: I am an urban anthropologist. In my research I focus on global processes, urban renewal and gentrification, gender relations and the ways they are shaped by urban environments. My previous research was about the rebuilding of downtown Beirut, Lebanon.

 

5) John Seitz

Department:Theology

Experience Prior to Fordham: I came to Fordham in Fall 2008 from Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where I earned a Ph.D. in the Study of Religion. So 2010-11 will be my third year at Fordham. I served two years previous here as a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow. During those two years, I taught Faith and Critical Reason, American Religious Texts, Wartime Religion in U.S. History and the Catholic Studies Seminar II, which is a course for concentrators in Fordham’s Catholic Studies program. I also took the role of facilitating the Catholic Studies program here at Lincoln Center, which is a selective concentration (requiring six courses and community service) for students interested in the interdisciplinary study of American Catholicism including its history and contemporary practice, its theology, ethics, aesthetics and culture.  I also became co-editor, with Prof. Angela O’Donnell, of a book series for Fordham University Press called “Catholic Practice in North America.” During those two years I was also a first-year advisor, a role I continue to have this year as an assistant professor.

Reaction to the FCLC Experience: Joining the faculty here has been a great honor. My colleagues in theology and in other departments have been a great asset to my work and life. In particular, the students at Lincoln Center have impressed me as an incredibly resourceful, resilient and capable group. They seem to come here with a depth of experience not often shared by undergraduates I’ve known elsewhere. This depth of experience makes for a richer classroom conversation, and really enhances my experience as a teacher. Right now, I’m particularly excited about a new course I’m teaching called Religion in the City. In this course, students conduct a semester-long field study of a religious group of their choosing in New York. It is a great opportunity to make Fordham’s motto “Fordham is My School. New York is My Campus” a reality. Already, students have brought back stories of a Buddhist Temple in Chinatown, a theater production in a restored Catholic church in Brooklyn, a church with a bar and cafe attached on the East side of Manhattan and a pet massage parlor on the West Side!

Personal Interests/Independent Work: I have a book coming out in the spring called “No Closure: Catholic Practice and Boston’s Parish Shutdowns.” It tracks the experiences of Catholics in Boston who, beginning in 2004, occupied their parish churches in opposition to the Archdiocese’s plans to shut them down. Instead of moving on as instructed by the Archdiocese, they brought in their sleeping bags and settled in. They ran their own religious lives, including arranging to receive consecrated communion bread and wine from a secret network of sympathetic priests. I got to know these Catholics as they took over their churches and attempted to have their churches reopened. Six years later, the occupations are still going on in Boston. The book explores the question of what these occupations tell us about the history of American Catholicism. I’m working now on a project about Catholicism in the Second World War. This project emerged from my interest in the ways war experiences (both at home and abroad) might transform the religious imagination.

6) Mattias Smangs

Department:Sociology

Experience Prior to Fordham: Before coming to Fordham I was a graduate student in sociology at Columbia University for six years.

Reaction to the FCLC Experience: I am excited about joining the full-time faculty at FCLC because of the University’s approach to teaching and education, involving a strong emphasis on caring for the  individual student, manifested, for example, in small class sizes, and because of the opportunities offered by the area around Lincoln Center, which is quite different from what I am used to in Morningside Heights.

Personal Interests/Independent Work:I have just finished my dissertation that is about the role of racial violence, particularly lynching, on the formation and reconstitution of white identity in the post-Reconstruction South, 1882-1915.