Fordham senior dies after falling from clock tower weeks from graduation

Clay Curtis
April 17, 2019

Students confirmed it has become "a rite of passage" to climb the clock tower, touch the bell and take pictures before they graduate from the university.

University officials are investigating how the students gained access to the tower, according to an email from Fordham Public Safety.

Sydney Paige Monfries, 22, was participating in an early morning climb to the top of the Keating Clock tower on Fordham's Rose Hill campus in the Bronx when she reportedly fell almost 40 feet through an opening in the 83-year-old Gothic structure's first landing, The New York Post reported.

The senior student fell through an opening in the stairs and plummeted 40 feet, sustaining trauma to her head and body, according to the New York Times. She was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital and put on life support; she was later pronounced dead in the evening.

Students were then told they needed to take a photo outside one of the top windows with against the skyline.

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Monfries and a group of friends climbed the tower at roughly 3 a.m.

Christopher Rodgers, dean of students at Rose Hill, told The Ram in 2013 that since "the clock tower is rather risky, and therefore secured area of campus, students would likely face disciplinary action if they entered it".

A waiter at the restaurant where they had dinner beforehand told The New York Post that he did not know if they had been drinking. "They are always doing some kind of cleaning or renovation", she said. They were like, 'We're seniors. The waiter also confided that his roommate was among the friends that accompanied Monfries into the bell tower.

The fall knocked her unconscious and when paramedics arrived, they struggled to her out because the staircase was too narrow for them to maneuver the stretcher she was on. "Our hearts go out to Sydney's parents, and her family and friends-theirs is an unimaginable loss, and we share their grief". Fordham said it will issue that degree posthumously and present it to her parents.

Monfries, of Portland, Ore., was set to graduate in May with a degree in journalism.

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