It was a new ambience for the Joseph M. McShane, S.J. Campus Center: eerie music, wolf howls, ghoulish costumes, giant cobwebs, a hallway-size haunted house, laughter mixed with the occasional frightful yelp.
The one flaw in the spookiness? All that natural light flooding in through the huge windows. “The sun is always shining in, it’s beautiful,” said Gabriel Chavarria, a Fordham College at Rose Hill senior passing through the Career Center and Campus Ministry areas.
The Haunted Open House marked a new effort to help fully integrate the McShane Center into University life by enticing students to wander the full length of the second floor, discovering the cavernous hallways and hangout areas along the way—as well as all the offices there to serve them.
The second floor’s Halloween-season transformation highlighted a much larger, permanent transformation of student life brought about by the campus center’s construction, a pillar of the University’s $350 million fundraising campaign, Cura Personalis | For Every Fordham Student.
Enhancing the Entire Student Experience
Construction on the campus center has continued since it opened to students last year. Amid the second-floor Halloween hijinks on Oct. 17, crews were working on the first-floor Marketplace renovation that will produce a vastly better dining experience in another nine months or so.
Unfinished as it is, the McShane Center already feels like students’ home. “This is such a huge resource, and I think it’s a real asset to the University,” said Isabella Guariniello, a junior at Fordham College at Rose Hill who found the haunted house to be “a really cool way to interact with the students and the faculty here.”
Commuter student Ryan Nole, a Gabelli School of Business junior, appreciates being able to hang out in the campus center between classes. He’s noticed that it’s brought new visibility to student clubs and organizations and provides a kind of social lubricant—“I know if I want to see someone, they’ll probably be here,” he said while checking out the open house. “It definitely fulfills its role as a community space.”
In fact, with so many students gravitating toward the new student lounge and communal spaces on the first floor, “we wanted another way for students to kind of say, ‘Hey, there’s more parts to the building, there’s a whole bunch of stuff up here,’” said Juan Carlos Matos, assistant vice president for student affairs for diversity and inclusion—dressed up for the occasion as “Dr. Acula.”
Students partook of Halloween candy—including the allergy-free kind—and activities like pumpkin painting. All of the second-floor offices got into the act, including Student Services, the Office for Student Involvement, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
To be sure, the new campus center has already been boosting the work of second-floor offices including the Career Center, which gained a new suite equipped with 10 interview rooms, event space, and other amenities, including new capabilities to promote career-related events.
The new suite “has truly elevated our office University-wide,” said Annette McLaughlin, director of the Career Center. The 840 career counseling appointments held from July through September represent a 24 percent increase over the same period last year, she noted.
Campus Ministry and the Center for Community Engaged Learning, or CCEL, now share a roomy, inviting suite with floor-to-ceiling windows providing “cathedral-like” light, in the words of Campus Ministry administrator Carol Gibney. It offers plenty of room for students to study or hang out and unwind, making it more likely that they’ll learn about something they want to get involved in, said Amanda Caputo, FCRH ’23, a program manager with Global Outreach. “Students [have]made this their home, in a way,” she said.
By providing generous, dedicated space for CCEL’s meetings with its New York City partner organizations, the facility “demonstrates the University’s commitment to community engagement and experiential learning,” said the center’s executive director, Julie Gafney, Ph.D.
“It helps to show that this is what we mean when we say we’re a Catholic and Jesuit institution,” she said. “We mean that we create spaces that put our mission work first.”