Collins is crumbling. Please help
by Christian Decker
The small but mighty building overlooking the pathway to the library and the sprawling metropolis that is Martyrs’ might be one of the most overlooked buildings on campus. Unless you’re going to office hours for philosophy, most of the students here at Rose Hill might never set foot in the building. But for other students on campus, Collins has achieved what I might call semi-mythical status. It’s home.
Over the course of many weeks, USG Vice President of Student Life, Ashley Qamar (FCRH ’20), went about collecting student statements in support of Collins. The statement includes smaller statements from individual students talking about how much Collins means to them and the changes that need to take place in order to spruce it up a bit. Including these statements, the big three theater group e-boards also drafted their own statement. Making up this trifecta is The Mimes and Mummers, The Theatrical Outreach Program (TOP), and Fordham Experimental Theater (FET). The groups have asked for renovations to be done both inside the theater and in the Blackbox. The list includes replacing broken chairs (some of which have been broken since the 80s), getting a new curtain, buying new lighting equipment, hiring professionals to come in and look at some of these aspects, an addressing the safety issues.
Fair warning, my views on the state of Collins are pretty biased as someone who’s been in three shows on its stage, and seen many others, both in the Blackbox and on the mainstage. For the most part, the theater geeks at Fordham have been entrusted with taking care of this space on their own, a task, I might add, that they do not take lightly. But at some point, there get to be jobs that a bunch of college students who are already paying an insane amount in tuition and have many other responsibilities cannot begin to undertake.
Many of the problems with Collins have accrued over the years. It’s the oldest building on campus, and in its prime it looked gorgeous. But time takes its toll, paint starts to chip, curtains start to rot, and chairs can break. Although the freedom to build your own set and a theater to run almost on your own is an amazing experience, you can’t expect people who don’t have the resources and training to take care of the more intricate aspects of fixing a sizable theater.
On February 13, I went to the meeting of the Student Life Council in solidarity with my thespian colleagues in order to secure more support for the renovations at Collins. Present at the meeting were people affiliated with all three theater groups, representatives from the budget committee, Campus Activities Board, and Dean of Students Christopher Rodgers. After a few preliminary issues, Qamar got up and presented the statement to the committee, reading the first portion and then inviting members from the groups to read their individual statements. For the Mimes, it was Patrick Fox (FCRH ’20), for TOP, Kathryn Murphy (FCRH ’21), and for FET, Lily Ochs (FCRH ’20).
After the statement was read, the forum was opened. Let me tell you that I’ve very tired of Fordham overlooking this issue. I heard from the lips of Dean Rogers that we should try to list the help of alumni to help raise money for this issue.
Are you serious? My parents are both alumni from Fordham as well as former members of both the Mimes and FET. They’re in the process of helping me through school with my brother coming up soon, and now we’re going to ask them for more money? Let me ask, what are the salaries of the higher-ups at Fordham? Hell, they could probably pay for half these fixes themselves.
What the hell is my tuition and housing money going to? Clearly, it’s not paying our adjunct professors, or investing in better equipment for the science department. I’m glad that in this temple of education students can go to school for free for putting a ball into a goddamn hoop. What was the record of the football team last semester? Is this what we’re subsidizing here? Screwing over part of the student body so we can attract prospect athletes? I understand the appeal, especially for students who are talented and may have no other way to get into an expensive school to get a good education. But when we overlook other parts of the school to do it, I cannot remain silent.
My issues with the wasteful spending of Fordham and colleges in general aside, the brushing aside of the theater, and by extension, the arts, has got to end. If Fordham really purports to be a school that cherishes “men and women for others”, then it needs to start acting like it. I implore you, even if you’re not part of Fordham theater that you help in anyway you can. Show your support, email whoever you can, OSI, Dean Rogers, hell, even the Office of the President, but just annoy anyone in power that you can. Because Collins is worth fighting for, and it’s a place that generations before us, and after us, have and will call home.