Students said climbing the tower, touching the bell and taking photos of the sweeping views, were part of a senior-year "rite of passage", according to the paper.
A Fordham University student was critically injured Sunday after falling from a clock tower, according to a statement from the NY university.
"I heard they were just getting a better view of the city", she said.
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One student, identified only as Anne, told the U.S. publication she believed Ms Monfries had climbed the tower with several other students when the tragedy occurred. "He told me some seniors (wanted to go) to the tower to take some pictures and have a good time before graduating".
The senior continued, "I think they were posting on Instagram when it happened".
The university is now investigating how the students gained access to the tower. "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".
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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.
For many Rose Hill students, the allure of the clock tower has become irresistible. Bob Howe, assistant vice president for communications, explained that "access to that tower is always locked". "Being in that building, there's no sort of methodology or way to have access to that, in my personal opinion.Don't really know how they got up there", Sean Johnson, a student said.
Police say emergency responders found the woman lying on the ground inside the tower with trauma to her head and body at about 3 a.m. Sunday. During the event, seniors climb the tower, touch the bell and take photo outside one of the top windows. But there is no bell in the tower, the school said. Monfries was 22 years old, according to CNN affiliate WABC.
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On Sunday night, the university released a statement saying, "Our hearts go out to Sydney's parents, and her family and friends".