A 22-year-old Fordham University student was fatally injured early Sunday during a banned "rite of passage" at the Bronx campus. The Jesuit university says Sydney Monfries was injured in a fall inside the iconic Keating Hall clock tower around 3am, the Fordham Ram reports. She was pronounced dead in St. Barnabas Hospital on Sunday evening. Police say she tripped on a landing inside the tower and fell 40 feet through an opening in the stairs. Monfries, who was a month away from graduation, had apparently climbed into the off-limits tower with a group of fellow seniors, the New York Times reports. The group had sent a Snapchat video from the top of the tower. Students say sneaking into the university's most recognizable building at night has long been a tradition for Fordham seniors.
In the Snapchat video, students can be seen using their phones as flashlights as they move through the dark tower, the Times reports. "There are no words sufficient to describe the loss of someone so young and full of promise—and mere weeks from graduation," university president Rev. Joseph M. McShane said in an email to students. He said Monfries, a journalism student from Portland, Ore., will receive her degree posthumously. A Sunday evening mass at the university church was packed with people praying for Monfries' survival. News of her death arrived during the service. "It was filled. There were people outside the church at the doors. We were saying prayers in unity because we felt so horrible about what was happening and we all understood the gravity of the situation," freshman Jack DeBruin tells the New York Daily News. (Read more Fordham University stories.)