Fordham University Confronts a Series of Bias Incidents

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Fordham students Luke Taylor and Thomas Welch think the administration has done a good job confronting the bias incidents (WNYC/Arun Venugopal)

Fordham University has launched an investigation into its third bias incident within a month, the latest being the discovery of a racial slur scrawled on a bathroom wall.

The latest incident follows the discovery of a homophobic slur last week at the university's midtown campus and another racial slur, written on the Bronx dorm room door of a black student in early February.

"Bigotry has no place in civilized discourse," wrote Jeffrey Gray, the university's senior vice president for Student Affairs, in a statement circulated to the university community on Friday, "much less within the walls of the academy. As a Jesuit university we rightly hold ourselves to elevated standards of speech and behavior. The individual or individuals who have committed these acts fall woefully short of those standards."

However, Marisa Carroll, a Fordham student and editor of the school paper, known as "The Paper," argues that there is a "culture of racism" and homophobia on campus. She believes the university was slow to confront it after the initial incident.

"It seems as though if you don't use those moments as really key, teachable moments, then you could lose that opportunity and the wrong messages can go out to your student body."

Carroll acknowledged that Fordham was "not a particularly bigoted center of thought" but said she had received taunts and had been sexually harassed on the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx.

A number of students approached on Sunday at the school's midtown campus seemed unaware of the incidents. However, Thomas Welch, an undergrad and secretary of the LGBT group the Rainbow Alliance, felt the university had done a good job of confronting the problem, following discovery of the homophobic slur, last week.

"The incident had just occurred on Monday and then we had a Town hall meeting on Tuesday," Welch said, "which, like, 80 people showed up to. So I think that was really beneficial. And I think that people got to air their concerns and what might be done, and we got a lot of brainstorming going on, so I think it was really good."

The administration had previously issued statements saying it was organizing floor meetings around the issue and would consider criminal prosecution against the perpetrators. It is also encouraging students and faculty to join in a vigil, planned by student groups on Thursday.


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Comments [7]

Robert J W from Washington Heights

Fordham University caters to the white privileged and the University itself is rampant with bias within its gates. They don't talk about it, but it is in their in their admissions, financial aid department, their clubs the Resident RA selection process, their on campus jobs and their sports teams.

Feb. 14 2014 05:40 PM

To the white privileged this may seem like 'disparaging graffitti' but to colored students who have to endure racism and discrimination in their home away from home this is a big deal. It is okay to cal it what it is-- racist-- it is NOT okay to be fine with anyone hurting someone with words that carry lots of hurtful historical significance. As a FU alumna I can confirm that these aren't isolated incidents and occurred while I was on campus and before then as well. If you think this is okay, then you should go and educate yourself on the effects of racism.

Mar. 06 2012 09:52 AM

I would like to note that most of the outrage on how administration handled the incidents was over the initial crime committed on the door of an RA, to which administration did not send out any notification to students nor hold any kind of town hall or even floor meeting for that particular building. I think if WNYC wanted to get the full story, or a slightly more accurate story, they should have spoken to students 1) of color, since the initial slur was a racial one 2) at the Rose Hill campus, where the initial incident was committed, and preferably 3) who are part of the group outraged by the incidents, so that they could get the that side of the argument. And just for kicks, someone could have easily contacted the student who was targeted for a better understanding of what exactly happened.

Mar. 06 2012 05:42 AM
Michael from NYC Metro-Area Cyberspace

One more time: "Parishioner".

Mar. 05 2012 02:08 PM

As a Jesuit University Grad, I should know better than to post a message with the word "Parishoner" and "immature" misspelled! Maybe we can find a way to edit our mistakes in this environment! :)

Mar. 05 2012 02:04 PM
Michael from Parishinoer of Archdiocese of NY; Jesuit Univ. Grad.

What was the first incident? Another act of disparaging graffiti? How do such petty, inmature acts rise to the level of newsworthiness?

Mar. 05 2012 01:37 PM
Margo G.G. from The Bronx

It might ad weight to your "think the administration has done a good job confronting the bias incidents" if the students pictured were not both white males.
Just a thought.
As an adjunct at Fordham I don't know that I agree with how the administration is dealing with the issue, but I know that the appearance of white men telling others that "everything is OK" or "everything will be addressed" does not engender great enthusiasm.

Mar. 05 2012 05:33 AM

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