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Fordham Student Dies After Fall From School's Clock Tower

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There was heartbreak on the campus of Fordham University on Sunday night.

A college senior, just weeks away from graduation, died after falling from the campus clock tower, in an apparent attempt to take a picture.

Now, amid sadness, many are questioning how students were able to get inside the locked building, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported.

Sydney Monfries

A private mass was held on campus on Sunday night for 22-year-old Sydney Monfries, who died after climbing inside the university iconic clock tower.

Some students said the stunt was a senior student tradition. Sadly, it's one that claimed a bright young woman's life.

"I think experiencing that just a few weeks before graduation for her friends and family, that's just the worst thing that can possibly happen. I just want to send my thoughts and prayers out to them," a student named "Neil" said.

Web Extra: Scenes From Fordham University After Student's Fall:

Monfries was just a few weeks away from graduation and earning a bachelor's degree in journalism at Fordham College at Rose Hill. Police said Monfries and her friends sneaked inside Keating Clock Tower around 3 a.m. on Sunday with designs on climbing 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.

"I just saw a bunch of flashing lights and I thought this can't be good. I see a fire truck, I see a couple police cars. I'm like what happened here?" one student said.

The university said Keating Hall and the door to its clock tower are always locked and only accessible by authorized staff members. There had never been falls before. Officials are investigating how Monfries and her friends got inside.

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."

"When you're so close to having the next chapter of your life begin, that's gonna hit you even harder. It's such a terrible thing to realize," student Greg Bianchi said.

"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 degree posthumously.

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