Positive COVID-19 Case Numbers Continue to Climb at Rose Hill


Fordham experiences spike in COVID-19 positivity rate at its Rose Hill campus. (Courtesy of Instagram)

Over the last two weeks, Fordham’s Rose Hill campus experienced a large spike in positive COVID-19 cases. As of Thursday, Feb. 25, Rose Hill reports 246 active positive cases, according to the university’s testing dashboard. This number, far higher than any recorded during the fall semester, represents 5.54% of the total campus population. 

Many students have expressed concern about the outbreak, especially the consequences the university faces as a result of passing certain thresholds of cases. 

Prior to Feb. 19, if a university in New York State had more than 100 cases over a two week period, it was directed to pause in-person instruction and activities. However, the state announced new guidelines that 5% of the total on-campus population must test positive in order to enact a lockdown. The new threshold for pausing in-person activities was announced to the university community last week in an email sent out by Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university.  

However, some students still feel that more clarity is needed from the university about what will happen as the university gains more cases. A change.org petition, created by Olivia MacDonald, FCRH ’21, demanding more transparency circulated on social media during the last few weeks. 

The petition, which was created before in-person activities paused at Rose Hill and has almost 400 signatures, expresses concern over uncertainty over what measures the university might take if case numbers continue to climb. “By withholding a contingency plan from the student body, university parents and even faculty in some cases, they are neglecting their own commitments made to the Fordham family,” the petition states. “This has caused immense stress and anxiety for everyone affected, leaving students to petition for answers instead of being given them directly.”

Off-campus events not sponsored by the university are among the possible reasons the case count has climbed so high at Rose Hill. In an email to the Fordham community on Feb. 17, Christopher Rodgers, assistant vice president of the university and dean of students, reminded the student body of the potential consequences of unsafe behavior. 

“As you know, emergency measures have been in place since August to assist in controlling the spread of infection: strict limits on visitation inside halls, a suspension on guests from outside and visiting between halls and the other regulations on events and activities,” wrote Rodgers. “These measures contributed to slowing spread through the Fall, but as we approach the weekend, we remind you that crowded locations, reckless socializing at house parties and local bars and failure to properly use masks are known to contribute to rises in infections in any community.” 

The university’s COVID-19 Community Safety Expectations for Students” states that students are not permitted “to organize, advertise or engage in high risk activities on or off campus.” The policy names “off-campus parties” and “social gatherings of more than ten people” as high risk. Students who disregard this policy could face penalty from the university, according to the guidelines. 

In a statement to the Ram, Rodgers explained the university is weighing its options about how to address rising case numbers where unsafe student activity is concerned. “We have been planning and prepared for multiple contingencies this spring, though off-campus parties and other high risk activities were of course actively addressed during the fall as well — and at the highest levels of the conduct process,” said Rodgers in a statement to the Ram.

Rodgers wrote in his recent email that measures to address the high positivity rate at Rose Hill may include “limits on exit/entry to campus after late-night hours to reduce participation in unsafe off-campus activities,” “limits on entry to campus except for specific academic purposes” and “further limits on visitation within residence halls.” None of these measures are currently in effect at the Rose Hill campus. 

“We do continue to hear mostly rumors of irresponsible off-campus activity in the new semester, but are limited in our ability to respond to private locations unless students bring these activities to our attention,” wrote Rodgers. 

Students can call Public Safety at (718) 817-2222 or email Rodgers at [email protected] to report any unsafe student activity. Rodgers said students should be aware that reports are kept confidential but that “all will be thoroughly investigated.”