By Brennan Sisco
While Fordham is a university without Greek life, many people don’t know that there’s a different type of sisterhood that exists on our campus. Known as Spire, this girl group is becoming a real presence on campus. This community of women wants everyone to feel welcome - no matter who you are, how you look, or what your passions are. Spire is a club dedicated to bringing forth a conversation encompassing the inclusion and acceptance of all women, and they’re more than ready to grow their sisterhood.
The club was founded in 2012 by former Fordham student, Emily Raleigh. The original idea for Spire came as a book Raleigh made for her younger sister. She wanted to pass along life lessons she learned, in hopes that her sister had some guidance when she eventually went to college, which is a part of life that is often stressful. Raleigh then expanded Spire once she started college and now, five years later, it has become a nationwide sisterhood that’s seen on a number of college campuses. In addition, she has created Spire & Co, which is described as “a lifestyle website that inspires self-discovery, empowers aspirations, and celebrates you.”
Raleigh, whose following (between both her private and Spire & Co accounts) has grossed over five thousand followers, told me that she started Spire & Co “with the intention of creating an uplifting space for young women.” Since there weren’t that many positive platforms for young women at the time, Raleigh said she felt it was her duty to create one. As Spire has grown over the years, she said that “the chapters became a way of bringing this community into real life in a very meaningful way.” While Spire & Co provided a suggested structure to start, Raleigh said that the chapters “have become what they are because of the chapter leaders and members.” Raleigh’s work has been projected across many campuses, which goes to show how this brand has created an inclusive and accepting community for women across different landscapes.
Here at Fordham, the club is made up of a six-member E-board. Spire’s President is senior Vienna Terrell; the Vice President is sophomore Jane Tegeler; the Sisterhood Chair is sophomore Kristen Egan; the Marketing Chair is senior Hannah Schwartz; the Service Chair is sophomore Shannon Clark; and the Treasurer is freshman Anisha Datt, the newest addition onto the E-board.
After the first spring meeting earlier this semester, President Vienna Terrell went into detail about the club and what it stands for. The club is “founded on three pillars of sisterhood, service, and seminar.” Sisters are encouraged to foster a community for girls on Fordham’s campus and, on occasion, the club jokes that they’re the only sorority on campus. They want to focus on creating a “safe space,” as Terrell referred to it, for the Fordham community to further female empowerment.
Although a newer club, the E-board likes to further their ideals through different events ranging from decorating signs for the Women’s March and trips to SoulCycle, to organizing panels with powerful, motivating individuals. Two years ago they partnered with Lambda Pi Eta, the Communications Honors Society, to host Lauren Duca, a Fordham alumna and political journalist for Teen Vogue who currently works for MTV. Recently, Spire has been pairing up with the local organization CitySquash, whose mission, according to its website, is to help “motivated and talented young people from economically disadvantaged households fulfill their academic, athletic, and personal potential.”
Another important part of this club is their work with various charities. Every year the E-board chooses a new charity that the club will fundraise for and work with. This year, Service Chair Shannon Clark decided on the charity GEMS (Girls Educational & Mentoring Services). GEMS serves as an organization that empowers girls and women who have been exploited sexually and trafficked domestically. You can donate either through their website or through Spire’s ongoing fundraisers that they frequently hold outside Walsh Hall and inside McGinley.
As Sisterhood and Athletics Chair, Kristen Egan is very involved with the club and finds it important to get Spire involved in some capacity with Fordham Dance Marathon. After much work and fundraising, Spire was able to raise over $1,000 for FDM. Although they’re continuously growing, Egan is proud of Spire for raising the most money out of all the clubs at Fordham.
Jane Tegeler told me that she’s very grateful to be a part of Spire for the last two years, especially now as Vice President. Tegeler said she believes that, in college, “it’s very important for young women to empower those around them.” If they’re able to create a foundation of inner strength and compassion for empowering and helping others (which Tegeler believes to be a crucial part of college), the community surrounding Spire will continue to grow and thrive.
The newest E-board member, Treasurer Anisha Datt, finds the work that Spire has done so far to be incredibly inspiring. Following in the footsteps of her colleagues, she has seen the passion of the members. She said she’s “so happy to be a part of such an empowering group of women.” With such a young group of E-board members, the future and enthusiasm of this club is endless.
As Spire gains more popularity, they want to establish a broader presence on campus. Hannah Schwartz, the Marketing Chair, discussed that her biggest goals for the club are to able to “donate more and create more events and activities.” Spire finds it very important that every semester their undergraduate members come back, and bring their friends to join. The E-board wants the girls of the club to have a home base to come back to if they ever need anything, and so that they feel that they have a community of women around them for support. Over the last year and a half this has rang true as the same girls come back, and new ones are always joining.
Spire is a space for women and girls within the Fordham community to find a home base for inclusion, support, love, and growth. The club may be new and relatively small, but their future hopes are big and blossoming. If you would like to learn more, feel free to email any of the E-board below or follow them on Instagram (@spirefordham). They have a number of meetings and fun activities coming up, and would love for you to join them!