New York — A Fordham University journalism student just weeks from graduation died after falling from the iconic campus clock tower, apparently while trying to take a picture, reports CBS New York.
The incident raised questions about how students were able to get inside the locked building. Some students said the incident happened during a senior student tradition.
A private mass was held on campus on Sunday night for 22-year-old Sydney Monfries.
Police said Monfries and her friends snuck into the Keating Clock Tower around 3 a.m. Sunday and were going to try to climb to the top.
University officials said Monfries died after losing her footing and falling some 30 feet onto a landing below. Emergency responders rushed her to St. Barnabas Hospital to try to save her.
School officials said Keating Hall and the door to its clock tower are always locked and only accessible by authorized staff members, and this was the first time anyone had fallen from the structure.
Some students said seniors break into the tower as a kind of a rite of passage.
“It’s like a tradition, apparently, for seniors to sneak into the tower and climb up. And they were like trying to get good views of the city,” student Antonia Greene said.
“I, personally, never heard about that. I’m not sure if it’s a tradition. If it is, it’s kind of stupid,” junior Linda Yenicag said.
On Sunday night, the university released a statement saying, “Our hearts go out to Sydney’s parents, and her family and friends. Theirs is an unimaginable loss, and we share their grief.”
“I feel so bad,” Greene added. “She’s like a very big part of the community, it seems like. She’s a very sweet girl. So I feel bad.”
The school said Monfries will get receive her bachelor’s degree posthumously.