Student dies after falling from university bell tower during 'rite of passage'
A university student, just weeks away from graduation, died after falling from a campus bell-and-clock tower during what some students claim to be a “rite of passage.”
Sydney Monfries, 22, a senior at New York City’s Fordham University, died Sunday as a result of the injuries she sustained when she fell inside the campus’ famed Keating Hall tower.
“Our hearts go out to Sydney’s parents, and her family and friends—theirs is an unimaginable loss, and we share their grief,” School President Joseph McShane said in a statement.
According to NBC New York, Monfries was with a group of friends around 3 a.m. Sunday when they decided to climb the inside of the tower to take in the view of the campus and surrounding city. Police said it appeared the woman had fallen through a hole on one of the stairway landings, plummeting to the floor below.
According to university newspaper the Observer, emergency crews responded to the scene just before 3:30 a.m., and Monfries had suffered serious injuries to her head and pelvis. She was rushed to hospital where she later died of her injuries.
“There are no words sufficient to describe the loss of someone so young and full of promise—and mere weeks from graduation,” McShane said. Monfries was due to graduate in May.
Students told the campus newspaper that it has become a “rite of passage” to climb the interior of the tower, touch the bell and snap some photos before graduation. The university neither confirmed nor denied the supposed rite, and is investigating how the students gained access to the tower, which an official says is normally locked.
However, a university senior told Observer “the doors aren’t always locked.”
“They’re unlocked at night when they’re cleaning,” the student claimed. “They are always doing some kind of cleaning or renovation.”
The school plans to award the student a bachelor’s degree.
“Fordham will confer a bachelor’s degree upon Sydney posthumously, which we will present to her parents at the appropriate time,” McShane said.