Friday, April 10, 2020

"What Keeps Me Up At Night:" Reflections of A Fordham Senior on COVID-19's Impact

I am trying to deal with what is an incredibly difficult time for all of us. I am incredibly disappointed that we will not have a graduation ceremony (it is my sincere hope they will ACTUALLY hold the ceremony). As a first generation american and a first generation college student, that day was so much more than a ceremony. It is something that transcends my experience. It was for my family who in their totality and boundless sacrifice brought me to this once in a lifetime milestone. It felt like bringing generations of struggle with me across the stage. Aside from the uncertainty of graduating into an economy and society which we have no idea what will look like.
Not to mention (which I am sure you have many many thoughts on) what the pandemic says about our society which falls apart at the seams at the first hurdle that requires collectivism. One that uses prisoners for slave labor and continues to put them through greater inhumane challenges of fearing contamination in what are already inhumane sanitary conditions and severe overcrowding. One in which our differences seem to pull us even further apart when they should be bringing us together.
Prisoners, those in unstable homes, and who are dealing with abuse, scarcity, Illness and unemployment keep me up at night during this time.
Ashley Brito FCRH 2020

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Proud to Be a New Yorker

As I woke up this morning, at a time when New York is experiencing the worst tragedy of the 21st Century, I want to express my gratitude to all the people risking their lives and safety to get us through this crisis; our doctors, nurses, and lab technicians; our EMT's and ambulance drivers, our police officers and fire fighters; our MTA workers who keep the buses and subways running, our teachers and principals who provide an educational lifeline to 1.1 million children; our grocery pharmacy and restaurant workers, truck drivers delivering food and supplies to homes,stores and hospitals; those running shelters and food banks; custodians and building service workers in apartment houses, office buildings, schools and universities. While the rest of us quarantine ourselves and shelter in place, they make sure the sick and dying are cared for and vital services continue.
As the majority of New Yorkers stay home to flatten the curve, we cannot forget those who go to work every day at great risk to themselves.
They represent the unconquerable spirit of this great city, a spirit which we saw after 9/11 and which we are seeing now. Because of them, because of all of us, New York will be back.
Feisty as ever. Arrogant as ever. Often hated. Never duplicated

Sunday, April 5, 2020

My 10 Strategies for Getting Through This Pandemic

1. Get plenty of sleep every night and nap during the day
2. Take vitamins and supplements every morning to build up my immune system
3. Exercise every day, but never to the point of exhaustion
4. Never leave the house except to sit on the stoop or go for a walk in the park, and wear a mask whenever I am outside
5. Respond to every request for help from students and friends in a timely manner
6. Eat lots of comfort food as well as food that builds up my immune system
7 Since there are no sports to provide escape, read great mystery authors on Kindle and watch episodes of compelling series on TV with Liz every evening.
8. Wash my hands 20-40 times a day.
9. Enjoy bourbon, scotch, rum, vodka and wine whenever the spirit moves me
10 Put my heart and soul into providing my students with the best possible on line classes, and do so in a manner that reduces rather than adds to their stress

Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Father O'Hare I Knew and Loved

During Father Joseph O’Hare’s Long and distinguished tenure as President of Fordham University, I was honored to count him as a friend and well as an academic leader. We didn’t agree on all Issues, and locked horns on a few, especially athletics, but in several key instances, Father O’Hare made decisions which showed his love of justice, and his concern for our community’s most vulnerable members , which earned him a special place in my heart and in the hearts of my Departmental colleagues
I am going to share two stories which reveal this aspect of Father O’Hare’s character. Since I have not seen these mentioned in other tributes to him, i think it is important that I share them, especially in a time when we are all being tested by the worst crisis of the 21st Century
The first occurred right after Father O’Hare’s inauguration. For several years, Urban Studies majors I had been working with at Fordham were trying to persuade the University to create a Community Service Program to encourage students to get involved in a Bronx community that was fighting an uphill battle against redlining, disinvestment, drug epidemics and the stigma the Bronx carried in public discourse. Less than a month after Father O’Hare took the helm of University leadership, he agreed to meet with me and my students about this issue. After listening for more than an hour to what they had to say, he agreed, on the spot to implement what they were calling for. Within a year, Fordham launched a fully funded Community Service Program which has evolved over time into one of the best in the nation. Father O’Hare’s empathy, vision and ability to take decisive action made this possible
The second instance took place nearly five years later. At that time, the University authorized a search for a scholar of African American religion who would be primarily housed in the Theology Department, but in which the faculty in African and African American Studies would have significant input. After a national search in which both Departments participated, the committee prepared to make an offer to a brilliant young scholar and teacher, Dr Mark Chapman. Unfortunately, at the last minute, the Theology faculty refused to make the offer. My Department chair, Dr Claude Mangum and I were so enraged by this they we actually arranged to move to another area university that was prepared to offer us tenure and relocate our African American and Urban Studies entities. But before we signed our contracts and left Fordham, we decided to meet with Father O’Hare to explain what we were about to do. As we described what had transpired during the search, Father O’Hare became increasingly dismayed and concluded the meeting by doing something for which Claude Mangum and I were forever grateful- he ordered the Vice President for Academic Affairs to create the tenure track line for Dr Chapman in African American Studies, not only allowing Claude and me to remain at Fordham, but instantly turning our Department into an Academic powerhouse.with a brilliant young religious leader on its faculty
I would not be here at Fordham, about to celebrate my 50th year of service at the school I love, had not Father O’Hare once again taken decisive action
Since that time, Father O’Hare has anyways held a special place in my heart, and in the hearts of everyone who who sees our Department as a valued part of the Fordham community
I mourn him. I miss him. And I try, every day, to keep his legacy alive