Dear Fordham Community,

This morning, the wave of protests and encampments spreading across the country came to our campus at Lincoln Center. Several dozen people pushed inside the lobby of the Lowenstein building and set up tents. After threats of conduct sanctions, most left. The remaining protesters refused to identify themselves or whether they were members of our community. After several warnings, NYPD arrested fifteen people for misdemeanor trespassing. We believe some of those were Fordham students.

I know that many of you have strong opinions about these events, from the war in Gaza to the attacks on Israel, from the value of free speech to the sometimes disruptive and threatening nature of protests. I want you to know that we take both the passion and the safety of our students very seriously.

Before today, the handful of protests we have experienced have been peaceful, mostly teach-ins and prayer vigils. We met with student leaders as recently as yesterday, readily agreeing to allow them to present their case about divestment and transparency to trustees and our chief investment officer. We remain committed to that process.

Today was different. We draw the line at intrusions into a classroom building, especially by people who are not members of our community. (There is a difference between free speech and people barging into your home to shout.) Outside of Lowenstein, hundreds of protesters came from elsewhere, drawn by social media invitations to support the few protesters on the other side of the window. The growing crowd outside banged on the glass so violently we worried they would break it. We worried that the protesters would rush further into campus.

This decision was not about parsing the difference between protected political speech and threats, nor was it about the Middle East. This was only about the physical protection of the campus. It comes down to this: Fordham students have a right to feel safe and to finish their exams. Period.

We remain eager to engage with our student activists and to have open-hearted conversations. We have found them to be thoughtful and focused on persuasion. But we can only have those conversations when we have secured our campus and made our community feel safe.

Know that we have increased security at both campuses, to strengthen the walls and gates that allow us to avoid outside intrusion at this moment. And also know that we remain committed to permitting peaceful protests that still allow the rest of our student body to continue their studies.

With fervent prayers for peace,  
President Tetlow