“People united will never be defeated.”
“No justice, no peace.”
These chants, among many others, could be heard throughout Loyola Chicago’s campus Thursday, Nov. 12, as hundreds of students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered on the East and West quads in solidarity with the students at University of Missouri.
The demonstration, organized by Loyola Black Voices, was held in solidarity of recent events at the University of Missouri, where racist incidents caused student uproar that resulted in the resignation of the university’s president and chancellor on Nov. 9. Today, Mizzou named Mike Middleton the interim president. Middleton is a recently retired administrator and one of the first black students to graduate from Mizzou’s law school, according to The Maneater, the university’s student newspaper.
After the initial gathering outside the Klarcheck Information Commons, where student leaders took to the megaphone and voiced concern for various issues on campus — from campus workers’ rights to the representation of various minority groups — students marched down Sheridan Road and Rosemont Avenue, before returning back to campus for more speeches given by student leaders.
Mine Dafiaghor, a 19-year-old marketing major, attended the demonstration and marched alongside his peers. He said the event was an important step toward increasing dialogue about race.
Dafiaghor said the demonstration was validation to current and prospective students alike that Loyola lives up to it’s mission of social justice.
“[Loyola] is social justice in both name and action,” he said. “It’s for reasons like this that I came here.”
Shadi Ramirez, 21, attended the demonstration as a way of showing her support for people who identify differently than she does.
“I feel [supporting the movement] is my responsibility,” said the senior biology major, adding that it’s important for people to realize that “just because [racism] doesn’t happen to them, it does exist.”
The Rev. Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., Loyola’s former president, was sitting in his office on Rosemont Avenue when he heard chants from protesters marching down the street.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “Absolutely fantastic. [The turnout] is bigger than I thought.”
Some students, such as Jade Brown, were inspired to participate because of the hate speech she read on social media in the days after the events on Mizzou’s campus.
“It was heartbreaking to see what people were posting on Yik Yak,” said the sophomore political science and theology double major. “I would have come out in support of Mizzou regardless, but what really drove me to come out was what’s going on on our campus and the hatred between students.”
Brown, 19, was referencing the racist commentary that showed up on social media apps, particularly Yik Yak, an app similar to Twitter that allows users to post anonymously.
At Thursday’s demonstration, student leaders encouraged participants to post about their experiences on Facebook Twitter with the hashtag, “#fromLUCtoMizzou.” Other hashtags have already circulated the internet, such as #BlackLivesMatter and #ConcernedStudent1950, the activist group at Mizzou named for the year the first black student was admitted to the university.
Loyola’s Interim President John Pelissero sent an email to the Loyola community Thursday night in response to the demonstration.
“I am proud of our community’s response and the commitment to addressing issues of justice,” the email said. “Loyola welcomes students, faculty, staff, and visitors from different perspectives, identities, cultures, and backgrounds and celebrates the free exchange of ideas, which is at the heart of a Jesuit education.”
During the demonstration, a group of students delivered a list of concerns to the Office of Student Development related to their experience as students of color, according to the email statement.
“I can assure you that University leaders have received the list,” he said in the email. “We want to hear more, and we will respond to these concerns.”
Melinda Bunnage, 21, a member of Students for Worker Justice said that events such as this demonstration are a necessary step for social change.
“Keep protesting and make a statement because they’re not going to listen to you because they want to,” said the senior. “They’re going to listen to you because they have to.”