Why is Fordham University Haunted? Wrapping up this series on the history and hauntings of Fordham University, I look at some additional theories behind why Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus seems to be so haunted.

Highlights include:
• My recent trip to Fordham’s campus
• Some less pleasant elements of Fordham’s past
• Stone tape theory and residual hauntings

Check out BronxWitch HeadQuarters:

Episode Script for Why is Fordham University Haunted?

DISCLAIMER: I’m providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn’t been proofread, so please excuse typos. There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script. Please treat the episode audio as the final product. 

  • Before I get into the episode, since I’m talking about weird paranormal phenomena in the Bronx, I wanted to pause and talk real quick about a cool witchy place that just opened up in the Bronx a few months ago. 
  • Yesterday I went up to the Bronx to visit a new space called BronxWitch HeadQuarters, which is in the South Bronx on Grand Concourse, a couple blocks away from Yankee Stadium. For folks who aren’t very familiar with the Bronx, that’s only a couple subway stops away from Manhattan, depending on which train you’re on, so it’s a really convenient location. 
  • You might follow Aly, the owner, on instagram–her handle is bronxwitch. https://www.instagram.com/bronxwitch/ 
  • BronxWitch HeadQuarters is kind of like WeWork for witches. It’s a workshare space that folks who do readings, healing, and that sort of thing can work out of. You can also rent out the space for classes and stuff, and I know Aly has some events planned. 
    • For example, she’s doing a tea and tarot event this weekend, on Sunday, March 20th, for the spring equinox. You can follow the BronxWitch Headquarters’ instagram at bronxwitchHQ, or visit the website at bronxwitch.com to stay in the loop and hear about other events. 
    • https://www.instagram.com/bronxwitchhq/ 
    • https://www.bronxwitch.com/ 
  • I think what Aly is doing is really cool, and I’m especially excited to see a place like this open up in the Bronx. If you live outside of NYC, you might not be familiar with the scene here, but there are some really cool shops that cater toward witchy types and have classes and events and stuff, but they’re mostly located in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and I at least can find them a little intimidating. Aly is so so nice, and she’s really focused on building community and establishing a welcoming environment. 
  • So if you live in NYC and are some sort of witchy person who needs a space to see clients or teach classes, or if you’re just interested in maybe going to a witchy sort of event, then definitely check out BronxWitch Headquarters.
  • And if you want to know more about it, you should check out the podcast Chaos and Shadow . Aly was a guest on a recent episode, and that was a great conversation to listen to.
  • Also, sidenote, if you’re a fan of NYC history and haven’t been to the neighborhood around Yankee Stadium, you definitely should. 
  • I mentioned that BronxWitch Headquarters is on Grand Concourse, which is a really famous street in the Bronx. It was envisioned in the 1890s and opened in the 1900s, and it’s modeled on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. It also looks a lot like Park Avenue in Manhattan. It’s this grand avenue where all of these beautiful apartment buildings opened in the early 20th century. There was even a fancy movie palace, the Loew’s Paradise Theater, which opened near Fordham in 1929 and which is still around today. It was an event space and now used by a church.
  • Anyway, if you go to the part of the Bronx near Yankee Stadium, you can check out the Grand Concourse Historic District, and there’s also the Bronx Museum of the Arts, which is a cool (and free) art museum. I feel like a lot of people in NYC don’t go to the Bronx very often, but the Bronx is great and extremely worth a trip if you’re in the area and don’t make it up there very often.

Strong emotions / Focus point for poltergeist

  • I mentioned this in previous episodes, so I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail here, which is what about poltergeist activity? 
    • The traditional poltergeist haunting is stereotypically centered around a young person going through puberty, often but not always a young girl,. The theory goes that that’s a difficult, emotional, perhaps even liminal time in a person’s life. If a poltergeist may be subsisting or feeding off of someone’s energy, especially negative energy, there might be a lot of it.
  • And while teenagers get the award for being most angsty, at least as far as commonly accepted wisdom goes, I don’t really think that college students are less angsty. There’s a lot of heavy emotional stuff that someone may be dealing with in college, and even under the best of circumstances, you’re living in a new place, with a lot of different people, away from family probably for the first time, etc., which can be emotional or stressful.

Intelligent Hauntings vs. Residual Hauntings / Stone Tape Theory / Place Memory

  • I talked about this topic some earlier in the series, so I don’t want to belabor the point here. But while working on the series, I read a book called Hauntology: Ghosts of Futures Past by Merlin Coverly (2020), which had some interesting ideas I wanted to share.
  • But before I do that, just a refresher: 
    • Intelligent hauntings are ghosts that can perhaps interact with observers or investigators
    • Residual hauntings are more like an echo, or a moment in time played over and over, which can’t interact with observers.
      • https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/residual_haunting 
      • You’ll often hear Stone Tape Theory invoked when talking about residual hauntings.
      • Stone tape theory was popularized by a 1972 British TV play called The Stone Tape, which drew on the theory of residual hauntings by parasychologist TC Lethbridge.
  • Hauntology: Ghosts of Futures Past by Merlin Coverly (2020):
    • On residual hauntings/stone tape theory:
      • “Broadly defined as the belief that haunting is in some sense analogous to a recording, the idea of residual haunting suggests that the natural world is embedded with the mental impressions of emotional or traumatic events, some dating back millions of years. These can subsequently be replayed, our brains acting as receivers with which to decode such ghostly transmissions.”
  • There was a bit in Merlin Coverly’s book Hauntology: Ghosts of Futures Past that mentioned place memory/spiritual conductors, which really caught my eye when I was reading it. I think these ideas may have some connection to my experiences of hearing strange sounds (the sound of a bell and a gibbering sound) in Finlay Hall, the former medical school building at Fordham, where I lived my sophomore year. I described that in detail the Demon in the Basement episode. So here’s the bit I wanted to read:
    • In his Ninth Bridgewater Treatise (1837) the polymath and pioneering computing engineer, Charles Babbage (1791-1871) outlined the possibility that spoken words may leave permanent impressions in the air, aural residues which only later become inaudible. ‘The air itself’, he wrote, ‘is one vast library on whose pages are for ever written all that man has ever said or woman whispered’, speculating that at some point in the future man might be able to rewind time to retrieve these lost voices from the past.⁴¹ Later, Edmund Gurney (1847-88) and Eleanor Sidgwick (1845-1936), both members of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), introduced the concept of ‘place-memory’ as an explanation for haunting, proposing that certain locations could act as a type of spiritual conductor, preserving traces of past events which could subsequently be accessed by certain psychically attuned individuals. In 1886, Gurney, along with fellow members of the SPR, Frederic Myers (1843-1901) and Frank Podmore (1856-1910), published Phantasms of the Living which explored hundreds of cases in which apparitions of living people had been seen, often at the moment such people had imagined themselves being there.⁴² Haunting was coming to be seen less as a ghostly manifestation than as an example of mental projection, in which the subject was able to transmit an audible or visual trace through time and space. In 1939, the Welsh philosopher and then president of the SPR, HH Price (1899-1984), proposed that such memory traces were recorded via the medium of a universal ‘psychic ether’, an intermediary between spiritual and physical reality, composed of images and ideas.⁴³ But the figure who was perhaps the first to suggest that ghosts might not only be projections but recordings, was the British physicist, Sir Oliver Lodge (1851-1940), who, like so many of his contemporaries, appears to have conducted his scientific career in tandem with his paranormal interests. He wrote in Man and the Universe (1908):
    • “Take, for example, a haunted house […] wherein some one room is the scene of a ghostly representation of some long past tragedy. On a psychometric hypothesis, the original tragedy has been literally photographed on its material surroundings, nay, even on the ether itself, by reason of the intensity of emotion felt by those who enacted it; and thenceforth in certain persons an hallucinatory effect is experienced corresponding to such an impression. It is this theory that is made to account for the feeling one has on entering certain rooms, that there is an alien presence therein, though it is invisible and inaudible to mortal sense.⁴⁴
    • “Just as Lodge, in seeking to explain the supernatural through recourse to scientific speculation, falls back upon the principal technological medium of his day, photography, so too does Lethbridge, writing in 1961, employ the most current means of transmission at his disposal: television. For, if ghosts are simply recordings of past (or future) events, what better way to illustrate this fact than through comparison with a technology which promised, in the 1960s, not only to bring such spectres to life, but to do so in colour?”

 

Tulpas, egregores, exorcism

  • I talked some earlier in this series about the links between Fordham and both the film The Exorcist, which was partially filmed on campus, and exorcisms themselves. There are TONS of creepy urban legends associated the rite of exorcism (like ghost priests “handling” entities that are haunting a building), or with the filming of the movie (I talk about that in the episode about Hughes Hall, or “the Exorcist dorm,” and a bit in the episode about the haunted theater and other haunted buildings on campus. Also, there were hauntings attributed to Duane Library, which supposedly occurred in the area of the stacks where texts on exorcism were kept.
  • So I think it’s safe to say that while on-campus deaths haven’t seemed to have entered the zeitgeist much when it comes to hauntings, exorcism definitely has. I don’t know how much of that is because of the university’s connections to exorcism, or just people reading into the university’s connections to exorcism and imagining things. Maybe a bit of both, who knows.
  • That also makes me think of the idea of tulpas/egregores/thoughtforms, so I just wanted to touch on those ideas briefly.
    • To put it very simply, a tulpa is an entity or thing that is created through someone’s spiritual or mental powers. Typically it’s an entity that is sentient, has its own thoughts, etc.
    • And an egregore is, to read the wiki definition, “an occult concept representing a distinct non-physical entity that arises from a collective group of people.”
    • I’m not doing these topics justice here, but basically what I’m trying to say is, it could be possible that by thinking about hauntings and strange entities at Fordham, students could be creating these hauntings and entities, either individually or as a group.
    • One question I have here is, can you make an urban legend come to life?
    • Seems possible, maybe? I’m not super well-read on these topics, though, so I can’t offer much more than just that question here.

Something bad happened there

  • One thing I always think is important to consider when looking at any haunted place is, what bad things happened there? What could have left some sort of bad impression or uneasiness there? And for Fordham, the list is very, very long. There are a lot of student life-level things that I experienced or saw while I was there that were very bad, and I’m sure bad things that happened there prior to the university’s founding, but I’m going to confine myself to just details that relate to the university’s history:
  • I’ve talked about French Jesuits in NYC before, in one of the episodes about Calvary Cemetery. In that episode, I discussed what you could call the evil wizards of NY, the Jesuits who came to NYS in the 1600s, tried to convert indigenous people, and brought disease and discord in their wake. The indigenous peoples generally didn’t trust them, and called them “blackrobes,” for good reason, since like evil wizards, the Jesuits brought both a system of magic (Catholicism) and the invisible spirits of death in the form of infectious diseases with them. Which is why I tend to refer to them as evil wizards. A number of the French Jesuits ended up being killed (after a much larger number of indigenous peoples had died, to be clear), and have since been sainted and are considered Martyrs.
    • Now, it was a different set of French Jesuits, a group from Kentucky, who bought Fordham from John Hughes in the 19th century, but they were French Jesuits nonetheless, which is not great.
    • On campus, there’s a dorm called Martyrs’ Court, which was built in 1951 and which, when I was there at least, was considered the least desirable dorm for a number of very good reasons. It was also considered pretty haunted. And it was also named after the French martyrs, with three wings, each named after one of the martyred French Jesuits, which I always thought was really screwed up.
  • Bad stuff goes on at every college campus. Fordham has no monopoly there, and I’d even argue that because Fordham doesn’t have Greek life, probably fewer bad incidents happen on campus than happen at a lot of schools with more of a reputation for partying.
    • I’m not going to say that people don’t party at Fordham, and screwed up stuff does happen there. There’s a reason why I decided to stop drinking during my senior year of college and haven’t drank since then.
    • But my impression is that most colleges, especially larger state colleges, have a worse record of really screwed up stuff happening on campus. (Read Missoula by John Krakauer if you don’t get what I’m alluding to.)
  • But there are some on campus events that may or may not contribute to some of the anomalous stuff that people have reported at Fordham. So let’s talk about on-campus deaths (I’m only looking at some from the 1980s and earlier), just a few of the ways that Fordham is stuck in the past, and a sampling of incidents of racism and homophobia that have occurred on campus.

Deaths (esp of young ppl)

  • There was one April 8, 1999, issue of the Ram that reported three disasters: First, a student was stabbed in the back and the stomach right off campus, though it sounds like he was okay, just recuperating.
    • Then, a 22-year-old undergraduate at Rose Hill was found dead in a park in Manhattan (he’d last been seen at a bar in Manhattan.) Cause of death was unknown, but a toxicology report was pending and foul play wasn’t suspected.
    • Then also a 38-year-old PhD student died by suicide.
    • I was skimming the rest of the paper, which always includes security files that note different bad things that happened on campus. There wasn’t much else there, just the usual muggings and stuff, though I did notice that two tombstones at the cemetery had been knocked over on April 5.
    • https://www.library.fordham.edu/digital/item/collection/RAM/id/25824
  • The February 1, 1979, issue of the Ram talks about how a student fell out of what at the time was called 555 (555 East 191st Street) but which is now called Walsh Hall. That’s the building right beside Finlay.
  • In 1983, a student was stabbed in Walsh Hall. It sounds like she was okay, just that her shoulder was injured.
  • I talked in length about how I don’t think it’s good form to graft stories of hauntings onto recent deaths, so to be clear, that’s not what I’m doing here. What I’m actually trying to point out is that there have been a number of deaths and accidents on campus, and you almost never hear about hauntings related to those.
    • I know of two exceptions: the construction worker who died while working on O’Hare Hall, and the seminarian who died in the 19th century because of unsafe living conditions in St. John’s Hall. Both of them have hauntings attributed to them, but I don’t know of any other hauntings where specifics about a particular person’s death have been worked into the urban legend.
    • So I think this is notable. There’s an idea that hauntings happen because of deaths, particularly the deaths of young people or people with unfinished business, and, at least in Fordham’s case, that just hasn’t been a thing.

Stuck in the past

  • If you forced me to choose one “cause” or reason for Fordham’s hauntings, I think I might have to say that, at least when I was a student there, it felt like a place stuck in the past. It was a place where time folded in on itself, so of course there were ghosts and strangeness occurring.
  • For me, as someone who’s interested in history, I think that some of Fordham’s interest in history attracted me to Fordham, at least aesthetically. I’m from suburban Texas, a place where there aren’t that many structures around that predate the 1980s, and I loved the idea of being wrapped up in this place that felt so old. You know, all these old buildings, old ghosts, etc.
  • Nowadays, there’s a word for this: Dark academia
  • Just so you know, this section of the episode was originally much longer. I cut out 1,000 words worth of content about how the school was basically the “reject modernity embrace tradition” meme but not ironic, they literally handed out a syllabus from the 1950s at orientation for my program, etc.
  • I’m from the Bible belt and I thought I knew what stifling conservatism felt like. My experiences in school proved me very wrong.
  • Oh, also, sidenote, just this month, Fordham announced a new university president. Surprisingly, the person the chose was not a priest, and even more surprisingly, the new president is a woman. That’s a first in the university’s history.

 Isolation and paranoia

    • In the episode “The Demon in the Basement,” I talked about how I believe that my own personal feelings of isolation and paranoia (caused by mostly interpersonal issues and my own illness)  contributed to some of the paranormal experiences I had on Fordham’s campus.
    • But the school itself has a sense of isolation from and paranoia about the wider community, something that I find completely unacceptable. The campus is gated and has guards posted at the gates and there’s a strong sense of it being separate from the neighborhood. 
      • I could go on for a long time about my own experiences of this and my thoughts on it, but I know that if I do that, I won’t be able to find a way to be brief, because I have too much to say on the subject. 
      • So in the interest of time, I wanted to read a bit from a 2015 article that I found on the website welcome2thebronx, since it has a great quote from a student who was from the neighborhood. The article mentions Belmont, the neighborhood south of campus, and Arthur Avenue, which is a major street with restaurants and bars that students frequent. The area is also called the Little Italy of the Bronx. And to be completely clear, I agree with what this student has to say:
        • Third generation Bronxite, Antoinette Legnini, [a] Fordham University student who lives in Belmont in the shadows of the university has these heartfelt words to say which have resonated with many other students online:
        • ‘I have never felt like more of a stranger in my own home on Arthur Ave than when I started going to Fordham.
        • ‘The disconnect between students on campus with people who have been living in this community for years is so great that local Bronx residents are referred to as the (now derogatory term) “locals” – who are assumed to be predominantly Black or Latino. But even with my discomfort on campus – I’m still a white student and have never felt personally discriminated against because I’m not assumed to be from the Bronx.
        • ‘This discomfort comes from hearing/seeing the thoughts/actions of other students on the Bronx and of “locals.” I’ve never been called a local/assumed to be from the Bronx – even though my family has been living on Arthur Avenue for three generations. I’ve never been stopped at the gate when I don’t have my ID – not once have I ever been questioned as to whether or not I went to Fordham.
        • ‘When I hear the word “local” out of some people’s mouths I hear such negativity – it almost sounds like people are referring to an annoyance, an obstacle in their college fun that they have to “deal” with. Now, there’s nothing wrong with calling someone a local, but the tone and assumptions that can be adhered to this name by Fordham students is what becomes so problematic. . . . 
        • ‘Don’t let these gates fool you into thinking that everyone outside of them is “othered.” Support local businesses, talk to your neighbors, engage in community activity. Demand that Fordham does a better job. . . .
        • ‘This culture of classism, racism, & sexism on campus is stultifying to our growth communally as well as individually and the safety of our students is at risk.’
    • I visited Fordham’s campus a couple weeks ago, and I definitely felt uneasy the moment I stepped onto campus. I’d made a day of being in the Bronx, walking around near Lehman College’s campus, going to Van Cortlandt Park and doing a bit of hiking there, and then walking down to Fordham’s campus.
      • Some of this could completely be my own bias and memories of my time at Fordham, but my feeling of having a nice relaxing day evaporated as soon as I got to campus.
      • To get onto campus, you have to show an ID. I had my alumni ID card, which they give out to alumni so you can show it to get back onto campus. But even with that, they almost didn’t let me onto campus. The guard had to call his boss to get permission, and then even after that, they told me I wasn’t allowed to go into any buildings.
      • Then, the whole time I was walking around campus, I think because from the start I felt like I shouldn’t be there, I felt like I was being watched. I’d forgotten that even though the campus is closed and they don’t really let visitors onto campus, security cars are constantly driving around campus, which really put me on edge. Also, I went inside one of the buildings, Keating Hall, to use the restroom and take a few pictures. It was a Friday night around 5 pm, so the building was empty, but I noticed there were cameras everywhere, which again, just made me feel like someone was always watching me.
      • Also, like I mentioned, I’d been walking around near Lehman College’s campus earlier, and the vibe had been really different. I saw groups of students hanging out, and multiple times I noticed students looking over at me as if they thought they might know me. The vibe was just really friendly, as if at any time someone might say hello to me, if that makes sense.
        • At Fordham, on the other hand, the atmosphere was very cold and pretty unfriendly. And I remembered that feeling from back when I was a student, but I think I just assumed that was because I was unhappy back then. And of course my recent experience could just have been tainted by my own memories. But either way, the vibe there was bad.
        • There are a lot of differences between Fordham and Lehman College, of course, even though the two schools are only about a mile away from each other. But, importantly, Lehman College is a public school, part of the CUNY system, whereas Fordham is an extremely expensive private school. So I guess it’s natural that it would feel more closed off. But man, the difference is striking.
        • Also, I’m about to talk about bigotry on campus, so I did want to note that I do not think that the bad vibes I got from my most recent visit to Fordham had anything to do with homophobia or people thinking I didn’t belong there. 
          • I had a backpack on. It was really cold and I was wearing a huge coat. So no one could see my tattoos and there wasn’t really anything to distinguish me from the students around me. And usually, unless I’m wearing a tank top or leggings, strangers just assume I’m a dude, especially if I’m not talking to anyone. So I definitely don’t think people thought I was a queer person and had an issue with that. People probably just assumed I was just a male student. I mention this just because even if you seem like you belong, there’s just something uneasy and isolating and paranoia-inducing about being there.

Racism and homophobia

  • So all of this brings us into the racism, homophobia, and just general bigotry that at least when I was a student, tended to crop up on campus. 
  • I believe I mentioned this earlier in the series, but reminder that the original Fordham Jesuits from Kentucky were enslavers
    • From the book Fordham: A History of the Jesuit University of New York, 1841-2003:
      • “In the years prior to the outbreak of hostilities in  1861, there may have been less antagonism than one might expect between the southern and the northern students at St. John’s College, because most of the New York Irish shared the anti-abolitionist sentiments of their southern brethren.”
    • Then the book goes on to say:
      • “As former slave owners in Kentucky, the Jesuits at Rose Hill might also have been expected to be ardent anti-abolitionists, but such conjecture may be inaccurate. When Father Maréchal, a French-born veteran of the Kentucky mission, cast his ballot for president of the United States in 1860 at the voting booth in West Farms, he announced publicly that he had voted for the “abolitionist candidate.” An unhappy fellow voter threatened him with physical harm, but the feisty Maréchal raised his cane and challenged him to a fight. His critic turned tail and ran away.”
    • I’ve talked about this in past episodes including the Calvary Cemetery episode where I talk a lot about Fordham’s founder, Archbishop John Hughes, but NYC was historically a pretty pro-slavery place, because even after slavery was abolished in NYC at the very late date of 1827, business interests in NYC made a lot of money from the labor of enslaved people in the south. So I’m not necessarily trying to say that anyone at Fordham was more anti-abolitionist/pro-slavery than their peers in NYC, but I also want to make the point that Fordham, like many similar institutions, began with people with pro-slavery sentiment.
  • But let’s swing back to the present day. I mentioned that there was a lot of bigotry on campus when I was a student. I dug up some articles and data points elaborating on that, mostly from after I graduated. I really hope things are better than they were then, but I don’t really know how students on campus feel nowadays.
    • As usual, I tried to load information about racism and homophobia into the end of the episode, so if that isn’t something you want to listen to, you can turn this off now without missing any other topics.
    • Let’s get into the articles.
  • The Daily News, MAR 05, 2012:
  • The Observer, September 16, 2015:
  • The Fordham Ram, September 2015:
    • This article mentions another instance of bigotry that also happened in September 2015: “The second incident occurred on Sunday, Sept. 20, when, according to Public Safety, a student notified university officials that he saw “a crude, backwards swastika approximately two inches across” scratched into a stairwell wall in the same residence hall.”
  • December 2015:
  • There was a 2016 incident involving homophobic language being written on someone’s door in Finlay Hall, which I mentioned in the Demon in the Basement episode:
  • There was also a study done in 2013 to assess how safe queer students felt on campus, which I think is worth pausing and taking a look at here. 
    • Findings of the Fordham Que(e)ry: Report to the Fordham University Community (2013 study)
    • From the report’s executive summary:
      • “Students’ outness at Fordham indicates a prevalence of fear and discomfort, and that these feelings vary depending on who a student is interacting with. We also find that students are frequently without any family support and come from hostile high school environments. . .
      • A large portion of students report feeling unsafe, uncomfortable, or unwelcome in residence halls, and these concerns impact housing decisions. . . .
      • Students generally feel safe and comfortable in student clubs, but only because they avoid clubs they worry will not welcome them.
      • The vast majority of student athletes experienced discrimination or harassment.
      • Students are likely to frequently experience ambient hostility in homophobic language and jokes. . . .
      • Verbal harassment and even threats of physical violence are not uncommon, but they are rarely reported to authorities and seldom discussed. This leaves the issue largely hidden, provides no recourse, and leaves the affected students without support.
      • Compelling evidence of physical violence based on sexual or gender identity is presented. . . . 
      • Many students indicate that the offices and individuals they have reported incidents to were “not at all” responsive and respectful to their needs as a sexual or gender minority. Further, fears that the university will not take their report seriously, or that their response will be ineffective if they do, are major factors preventing students from reporting.
      • Students who experience harassment and discrimination based on their sexual or gender identity report that they seriously consider transferring, their academic work suffers, they regret coming out at Fordham, and an alarming number of students struggle with internalized homophobia, blaming themselves for the treatment of others or believing their negative remarks. “
    • But I talk a lot about my personal experience in my episode the Demon in the Basement, and I talk about how the ambient homophobia at Fordham had a major negative impact on my own mental health, and I ask some questions in that episode about whether that had any impact on my paranormal experiences on campus.
  • Before we leave this subject, I wanted to talk about the last couple of times that I visited Fordham’s campus.
  • Before my most recent visit, I hadn’t stepped foot on Fordham’s campus in 7 years, despite living about an hour-long subway ride away, and despite being a frequent visitor to the Botanical Gardens across the street from Fordham.
    • The reason for that is because in 2015, shortly after I started dating my then-girlfriend (now my wife), we went up to the Botanical Gardens, and I suggested that we walk through Fordham first because I was excited to show her the campus. This was a random Saturday morning in the spring, and we walked around, and were holding hands, and we got some very dirty looks from students and people were staring at us. So that made my wife uncomfortable, reasonably so, so we had to stop holding hands.
    • Then, as we were passing by Martyr’s Court, a dorm, we looked up at a window and hanging in the window, prominently displayed for anyone passing by to see, was a confederate flag. It was a large flag, filling up a lot of the window. I have no idea how long the flag had been up, or whether the student was asked to take it down later. But on a weekend morning in April or May 2015, in the Bronx, NYC, a confederate flag was being flown by a student on Fordham’s campus. 
    • I grew up in the Bible belt and almost never saw the confederate flag in my Texas hometown, but some racist felt emboldened to fly it on Fordham’s campus. That sort of action does not happen in a vacuum, and a student wouldn’t do that if they felt it wouldn’t be tolerated, and perhaps celebrated, by at least some people on campus.
  • I know I’ve said this a bunch of times throughout the series, but obviously there were a TON of great people at Fordham, and not everyone was racist and homophobic. But it doesn’t take that many bigoted students and administrators to make everyone else feel uncomfortable, unsafe, surveilled, or trapped. And I do think that sort of energy in a place could certainly contribute to experiences of the uncanny there.

Wrap up

  • So you might ask, Chris, if you hated your time at Fordham so much, why did you decide to do a 12-part series on the subject?
    • I think that would be a fair question to ask.
    • First, I don’t think that anyone can deny that the university has a higher than average number of hauntings, urban legends, and weirdness, both for NYC in general and universities in general. So that makes it a good topic.
    • Second, it’s the site of some of my earliest paranormal experiences, so of course there’s a personal connection there, and I of course had already done a lot of research over the years trying to make sense of some of my experiences there, and also just out of interest in the history of a place where I lived for a formative period in my life.
    • Now, if I were trying to psychoanalyze myself, maybe I would say that in this series, I’ve been looking at a place where I was very deeply miserable and unhappy and trying to put a mostly positive spin on it.
      • I may even be trying to enamel it with this layer of the paranormal. So, for example, when I think of Finlay Hall nowadays, I think of urban legends and my paranormal experiences there, not other, worse memories. And that goes for the whole campus.
      • I don’t know, maybe that’s what I’m doing, though that definitely wasn’t my intention when setting out on this series.
      • I feel better the less I think about that, so I’ll stop the self-reflection here.
  • Anyway, thank you for listening to this series. Whether you just listened to this episode, or listened to the whole series, I’m really grateful that you decided to listen to me deep dive into the history and hauntings of a small university that isn’t super well known outside of the northeastern region of the US.
  • I say that especially because I don’t think a ton of Fordham people have found this series yet; based on the feedback I’ve gotten, and the numbers, it’s mostly been my usual listeners, the vast majority of whom did not attend Fordham. So again, thank you!
  • However, if you’re listening to this and you did go to Fordham and had any weird experiences, please email me at buriedsecretspodcast@gmail.com because I still want to hear your strange stories.

 

Don’t miss past episodes about Fordham’s history and hauntings:

Sources consulted RE: Why is Fordham University Haunted?

See sources page for the full source list for the series

Books consulted (partial list)

  • Fordham: A History of the Jesuit University of New York: 1841-2003 by Thomas J. Shelley (2016)
  • Magic in the Landscape: Earth Mysteries and Geomancy by Nigel Pennick
  • Psychogeography by Merlin Coverly (2006)
  • Hauntology: Ghosts of Futures Past by Merlin Coverly (2020)
  • The Official Guide to Randonautica: Everything You Need to Know about Creating Your Random Adventure Story by Joshua Lengfelder and Auburn Salcedo (2021)
  • On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor (2017)
  • Dark Folklore by Mark Norman and Tracey Norman (2021)
  • The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings by Jan Harold Brunvand (1981)
  • The Old Straight Track by Alfred Watkins
  • Indian paths in the great metropolis by Reginald Pelham Bolton (1922) 

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