PORTLAND, Ore. — A Portland native and Fordham University college student died after New York City police confirm she fell from a bell tower on campus early Sunday morning.

Sydney Monfries graduated from Jesuit High School in Portland in 2015 and interned at KGW in 2016. She was a senior at Fordham, just weeks away from graduation.

"Sydney was a very special member of our community, beloved for her spirit of kindness, generosity and compassion," Jesuit High School president Thomas D. Arndorfer wrote in a statement. "She was a true gift to our community. ... We are heartbroken by her loss, and our community grieves with the Monfries family."

According to a statement released by the university, Monfries fell from the clock tower at about 3 a.m. Sunday. She had reportedly climbed into the tower with friends. Monfries was taken to a hospital, where she died from her injuries.

The university said it is investigating how the students gained access to the tower.

Students on campus told NBC climbing the bell tower is, for some, a right of passage.

In 2013, the student-run “Fordham Ram” published an article about the tradition.

It read, "…climbing to the Keating clock tower tops the bucket list of many Fordham students. While several accounts of the climb rival ghost stories and mysteries, the overall assessment is that the experience is worth the risk."

The New York Times reports that it was shown a video from the tower that Monfries posted on Snapchat. 

The Times reported that "In the video, there is muffled but excited chatter as a few students stumble through the dark tower using their phones as flashlights. Other students can be seen holding up their phones to record the Bronx skyline and the university’s illuminated sports field from the tower’s perch."

According to her LinkedIn profile, Monfries had been a photo editor intern at InStyle since May 2018.

Read more about the incident here.

The following is the full statement from Jesuit High School.

The entire Jesuit High School community is deeply saddened by the death of Sydney Monfries, a treasured member of Jesuit High School's Class of 2015.

Sydney was a very special member of our community, beloved for her spirit of kindness, generosity and compassion. She was a true gift to our community, a blessing beyond measure for all who had the privilege of knowing her. We are heartbroken by her loss, and our community grieves with the Monfries family.

Our prayers and deepest condolences are with Sydney's family and friends. Our hearts go out to them during this time of unimaginable loss.

The following is the full statement from Fordham University.

Dear Members of the Fordham Family, 

It is with great sadness that I report that Sydney Monfries, a senior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, died today after sustaining a fall inside the Keating Clock tower in the early hours of the morning. Our hearts go out to Sydney’s parents, and her family and friends—theirs is an unimaginable loss, and we share their grief. 

There are no words sufficient to describe the loss of someone so young and full of promise—and mere weeks from graduation. Fordham will confer a bachelor’s degree upon Sydney posthumously, which we will present to her parents at the appropriate time.

As I noted earlier, we will hold a Mass for Sydney tonight at 7 p.m. in the University Church—all members of the University community are invited to attend. We will of course share information on funeral arrangements as soon as we have them.

Again, I know you join me in keeping Sydney’s family and loved ones in your thoughts and prayers. And also know that you are in mine.


Joseph M. McShane, S.J.