Campus

Former SGLC President, Protestors Face Backlash

Four Loyola students, including the now-former student body president, currently face disciplinary action for the demonstration on worker rights held last November.

The demonstration, which took place on Damen’s North Lawn, was registered and approved under the Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC), according to Michael Fasullo, the now-former student body president. The demonstration was co-organized by SGLC and Students for Worker Justice, Fasullo said. He estimated that as many as 150 students, faculty, workers and locals attended.

Dana Broadnax, director and chief conduct officer in Loyola’s Office of Student and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR), said she was impressed with the demonstration that took place on the lawn between Mertz Hall and Damen Student Center.

“The demonstration on the [Damen North Lawn] that included the Aramark workers speaks to the idea of solidarity,” said Broadnax. “It spoke to the idea of ‘we’re all part of the same community.’ That was effective.”

But what began as demonstration that abided by Loyola policy led to protesters marching into the Damen Student Center — which violated Loyola’s current demonstration policy, Broadnax said.

Fasullo said the intention was to meet with an Aramark executive and address a list of demands — namely raising wages for dining hall workers and increasing the number of workers given health benefits.

Following the protest, OSCCR received a report about SGLC regarding the demonstration, alleging that it had disrupted university operations and targeted or harassed a member of the Loyola community, according to Broadnax.

In addition to the allegations against SGLC, four lead student organizers of the protest received allegations of harassment/bullying and disruptive/disorderly conduct, according to Fasullo.

“I was baffled,” he said. “But also, I’m angry that this could be on my record [and] that I could be charged with harassment and bullying … but not only that, [I’m angry] that this is going to intimidate future student groups from participating in a key tenant of our Jesuit ideology: building community … Rarely is [administration] telling us to build community among workers.”

A hearing was held Jan. 25 with the four student leaders, all of whom are seniors. Fasullo and Melinda Bunnage, 22, said they thought the meeting went well. Bunnage said she was surprised to learn that in the executive’s letter to OSCCR, he didn’t expressly say he was harassed or bullied.

“It was not something that [the executive who filed the complaint] spoke to at all,” said the sociology and women’s and gender studies double major.

Broadnax explained that reports filed with OSCCR aren’t required to use “policy language.”

“[The complainant’s]  job is just to tell us what happened,” she said. “Based on what happened in the report, we are examining … where in our policies does this incident lie.”

The students were told they would know the outcome as early as Jan. 27, Broadnax said. If the students are found responsible of a policy violation, Fasullo said they will most likely appeal the decision.

Sophomore Brock Johnson, who attended the demonstration in November, said he’s shocked that the exchange between the executive and the students that afternoon is being considered “harassment” by OSCCR.

“The delegation conducted was civil and equitable,” the 19-year-old sociology major said. “The students who delivered the message to the Aramark manager were courteous, respectful and engaging.”

It doesn’t surprise him, however, that administration is pursuing SGLC and the students for policy violations.

“[The students] called into question the integrity of the university — highlighting the administration’s willingness to remain by the wayside as injustice occurs right here on our campus,” he said, adding that he doesn’t believe Loyola has been active enough in ensuring proper conditions for its workers.

Within its own organization, SGLC filed multiple charges against Fasullo in relation to the demonstration, according to SGLC Chief Justice Flavio Bravo. After an initial complaint was filed by a student senator, the Judicial Board of SGLC charged Fasullo with violation of the oath of office, willingly and knowling expressing agreement to violate Loyola policies and failing to serve the organization as a spokesperson.

The Board found him guilty of the first two charges, resulting in the decision to issue him three censures, or warnings, total — one for the question of his commitment to the oath and two for “willingly and knowingly expressing assent,” according to the report.

Three censures is grounds for impeachment, Bravo said. But before that process began, Fasullo announced his resignation in a statement on his Facebook profile on Jan. 19, saying that SGLC was no longer the best place for him to pursue his goals in worker justice and demonstration policy.

“I feel in student government there’s a lack of commitment to thinking critically about issues and creatively trying to address issues on campus,” Fasullo told The Phoenix. “It’s not only that I want to do these things on campus, but I want to be part of an organization that does so.”

After his resignation, Mariana Chavez, who was elected as Fasullo’s vice president last spring, took over as president.

Vice President of Student Development Jane Neufeld said that although she enjoys seeing students engage in causes they are passionate about, the time, place and manner in which they choose to support them must be respectful.

“We’re supportive of the causes, and I think that message is getting lost,” Neufeld said. “We have a responsibility to uphold our policies.”

She also said she feels like the attention that has been brought to SGLC’s policy violations have taken away from the cause for fair treatment of Aramark’s employees.

“[Students] have gone out of their way to develop relationships with the staff, and I love to see that,” she said. “They were having breakfast with them and conversations, and [they were] getting to know their families. I love to hear that, but I hate to see the cause get blinded by this.”

 

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