Letter From the Editor of Volume 101

Today, hundreds of students should be sitting on Edward’s Parade, staring at Keating Hall, sweating, exhausted from the previous night’s antics and wearing hats that, let’s face it, look more silly than distinguished. During the ceremony, all eyes would be on Keating steps as degrees would be conferred on the Class of 2020, and sitting silently in the background would be Cunniffe Fountain.

When I first toured Fordham, my dad, who earned a degree in classics from another Jesuit institution that pales in comparison to Fordham, excitedly pointed to the fountain and translated the Latin inscription around it: A joy it will be one day, perhaps, to remember even this. I was unimpressed. The Virgil quote seemed misplaced for the start of a grand adventure. College would be an exciting and challenging time full of joy, while Virgil’s words seemed to imply I would not feel this joy until much later. Now, in this ending, without the usual ceremony of closure, Virgil has the last laugh.

I am grieved that I am not sitting with my graduating class, exhausted (hungover) on Eddie’s Parade.

Let’s be clear though, it was a joyous and grand adventure, and I thought I had bested Virgil until the last few weeks. I spent four years with a front-row seat to the best and worst of the university with my time at The Fordham Ram. With every weekly publication, even the tough ones, I saw how all of you cared, how all of you loved and respected each other enough to demand the highest level of character from your community and your leaders and how so many of you were committed to the idea that change starts with you. I have interviewed and written about so many men and women for others, and though we’re not sitting together today, I want you to know that your work mattered even if you didn’t get your victory lap.

During my time editing the newspaper, I became convinced that Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, was right: we would live up to the title of Visionary Class. However, I see now that the charge he placed on us might look different than I initially thought.

When the Class of 2020 entered Fordham’s halls, we were asked to be a Visionary Class. We thought we were asked to be movers and shakers of the world, men and women for others who would one day become bothered graduates setting the world on fire. Now, our class, a group of people so used to taking action in the face of suffering, is being asked to watch and wait. Maybe the Class of 2020 aren’t just visionaries; they are watchers of the world, those who, if nothing else, look suffering in the face and remember it.

I’ve begun to think of our class as those who bear witness. We have watched our world break apart and knit itself together so many times in our lives. My first day of school was September 11th. I closed out my first decade of life with the crash of 2008. I cast my first vote in the election of 2016. I attended school in an era of gun violence. I saw the uncovering of abuse in the Catholic Church and the #MeToo era. I am graduating during a global pandemic.

As a lifelong Long Islander, I never knew that when I listened to Billy Joel’s “Miami 2017” that I would one day see the lights go out on Broadway and watch the Empire State lay low.

“Unprecedented” is a word that has punctuated the lives of the Class of 2020, so much that we have become used to the unusual. I spent my time at Fordham working on its journal of record, but each of us, the Class of 2020, is a living record of these times. We are visionary, just not in the way we expected.

I think it’s important to remember that contributions are not always made linearly. Doing your part to stay at home and pay attention to the world we live in even if you cannot be fully part of it right now, could very well make all the difference at another time. Many years from now when God willing we are old and grey, the world will fall apart again, and the children in our lives will say “this is unprecedented,” and you and I will say, “I have seen the world fracture into pieces many times. I know that generosity can come from the most unlikely of places, and when you cannot find hope today, you may find it somewhere new tomorrow.”

Maybe then, when someone asks us what happened in 2020 and this time of watching and waiting has a new purpose, we’ll remember Virgil’s fountain, and look back upon this time with joy. Until then, I am thinking of the joyous times I spent with you, Class of 2020, and looking forward to one day sitting on Eddie’s with my back to Cunniffe Fountain.