But Lincoln Center is getting a new skyscraper!
by Peter Lacerenza
On a rather fateful day in October, I received one of the more memorable texts from my roommate. Our toilet in Finlay had exploded, unleashing an eruption of porcelain shrapnel and an unfortunate spring of brown water. In the day that it took for facilities to make their way to our latrine-less abode, my roommates and I mourned the quirks of Fordham Housing. As proud survivors of Martyrs Court, we had already experienced the spectrum of disrepair that one can come to expect at this university: the sluggish Wi-Fi, the psych ward aesthetics, the bitter irony. One would think that the school with the nation’s highest room and board rates would at least attempt to justify the rotten state of its residence halls, but that has always seemed like too tall of an order.
In Martyrs, they attempted to pacify us with air conditioning units, TV lounges and granite countertops. In Finlay, however, there were no such pity bargains. Our only kitchen facility is a glorified rathole in what was once the building’s morgue, and an unfortunate 5 AM fire alarm revealed that—at the time of the incident—the entire fourth floor was unable to hear the alarms at all. Perhaps the icing on the cake was during our Hurricane Sandy briefing. As residents of the top floor, we were informed that—in the event that top wind speeds were reached during the storm—there was a slight chance that the roof, that allegedly hadn’t been serviced since the 1920s, might blow away.
Given this, it comes with little surprise to find that, by and large, Rose Hill is in a somewhat dire state. In a document rating building systems on campus, it was revealed that a quarter of our buildings qualified as “very poor.” In this destitute category is my current home, Finlay, as well as Freeman, Walsh, Larkin, Administration, Loyola and Alpha House. Not to be outdone, an additional seven buildings were deemed “poor:” Collins, Faber, Keating, Faculty Memorial, John Mulcahy, Tennis House, and the Rose Hill Gymnasium. While many of us have probably given up hope on FMH after sweating out a class in its crowded, identity-crisis-stricken largesse, it is regrettable to know that Keating—campus’ crown jewel—can be in such a state.
The largest and most dubious category, “Fair” encompasses nine buildings on campus: Alumni Court South, Loschert, Martyrs, Queens, the University Church, Dealy, McGinley, the Lombardi Center, and Walsh Memorial Library. How you find a way to lump the disparate conditions of the latter two buildings—one being akin to a sad, sad YMCA, the other being one of the more recent additions to Rose Hill—or any of these buildings into one category is up to the professional assessors to decide. However, let us not forget that Martyrs was recently renovated to circumvent condemnation, and can only be called “fair.”
Topping off the list are the “Good” and “Excellent” categories, including Duane and O’Hare, and Salice-Conley, Campbell, and recently renovated Hughes, respectively. Though none of these distinctions are a surprise, these groupings exist as a relative minority, with only five out of the twenty-eight buildings assessed being “Good” or better.
What is most disheartening about this information are the questions it raises. This isn’t just me complaining about the state of buildings. Even though we as Fordham students might know that the building conditions are as such, the fact that facilities management and—by default—the university are quietly acknowledging these problems without taking adequate or timely action. Although the university has announced its intentions to improve Loyola and McGinley (as well as rolling renovations to buildings like Dealy and Keating under the Excelsior campaign), many of the buildings that are most closely related to the lives and wellbeing of students have not received much attention.
Recently, Fordham has been touting its newest building at the Lincoln Center campus as the most expensive project in the history of Jesuit education. With a price tag of $205 million dollars, the building will most certainly benefit the university in its quest for betterment and expansion, but at what cost? Though fundraising has certainly contributed to the new construction, it seems almost criminal that a single building can cost roughly 40% of the school’s endowment while half of the Rose Hill campus is in shambles. At a fractional $2.7 million Finlay could be lifted out of dredges to the shining ranks of Hughes.
Or maybe what needs to be assessed is Fordham’s creation of a facade. While buildings are falling apart from the inside, it seems as though most of our money goes to fountains and planting enough flowers to woo prospective students into overlooking these major flaws. Although it may be a tried and true marketing strategy, one must wonder how long it will be before the scale is tipped even more towards the direction of disrepair. Collegiate Gothic aesthetics can only do so much. While Fordham might like to have larger projects tied to its name, we must not overlook the remedying impact of the many small changes that can help raise the status of the university—albeit in a more understated manner. For now, it seems as though Rose Hill is more style than substance.