Administrators told student activists they will be able to meet with Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney on March 12 following Friday’s demonstration after the arrest of a black student and allegations of racial profiling by Loyola’s Campus Safety.
Hundreds of students gathered outside the Klarchek Information Commons (IC) Friday to protest an incident in which a black Loyola student, Alan Campbell, was arrested by Campus Safety police officers and a Latina student, Paloma Fernandez, was grabbed by an officer by the collar of her shirt. They were questioning Campus Safety’s treatment of two black men who were searched after they were reportedly reselling tickets outside a Loyola men’s basketball game in violation of Loyola policy.
After walking out of class in protest on Feb. 28, demonstrators held a town hall March 1 to air grievances with the administration’s handling of the incident, as well as with what the organizers said are systemic problems with Loyola’s treatment of students of color. An online petition demanding action by the administration has received more than 1,700 signatures.
Campus Safety argued Campbell and Fernandez unlawfully intervened in its search of the two men, but the students vehemently deny any wrongdoing.
After a series of speeches in which students complained Campus Safety officers routinely question and search students of color more than white students on Loyola property, demonstrators marched from Loyola’s main campus to the provost’s office a few blocks away at Burrowes Hall on North Sheridan Road south of Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus. Chanting “no justice, no peace,” and “this is what democracy looks like,” they arrived outside the office of acting Provost Margaret Callahan and read a list of demands.
The students’ demands included a public apology from the Loyola administration, assurances that the students involved in the incident on Feb. 24 won’t be punished, reforms to Campus Safety led by students and faculty, “direct avenues” for anyone to file grievances with Campus Safety and an independent review of Campus Safety’s policies. They also demanded all proceedings following the protest be open to the public, and that Loyola end the practice of what they called “tokenism” — making only a symbolic effort toward diversity — in advertising diversity to prospective students.
“I feel the power in your voices,” said organizer Larenz Jones outside the provost’s office. “We’re here now more than ever to stand up for what we believe in, for what’s right and to this administration.”
As the demonstrators gathered outside the provost’s office, several administrators came out to greet them. Christopher Manning, an assistant provost for academic diversity, addressed the crowd.
“I want to acknowledge your experiences,” Manning told the crowd. “I want you to know that whether you believe me or not, having gone to a small college in Alabama where I fought neo-nazis that came to our campus, I know kind of what you are feeling. I have had that experience, and the president has heard what you have to say.”
Manning then told protesters Rooney wants to meet with them as soon as Monday, March 5. After some demonstrators argued they wouldn’t be able to make that meeting because it coincides with spring break, organizers and administrators worked out a tentative meeting date of one week later, March 12. No further details about the meeting were offered at the rally.
Aurea Ariel Delfin, a senior communications student at Loyola, said she feels Loyola administrators were dishonest in marketing the school as focused on social justice.
“It makes me laugh how we talk about, ‘Where’s this social justice [at Loyola]?’” Delfin said. “It was a marketing tool. [Loyola] lied to me. You guys told me this is a social justice school. You guys told me you guys would fight for me and that’s why I came here.”
Some demonstrators said they were optimistic that Loyola would respond constructively to the protests, but said the administration has a long way to go.
“As members of the minority communities on campus, you experience microaggressions and discrimination in so many ways that it’s hard to even quantify,” said Nieky Allen, a Loyola graduate student who is friends with Campbell and Fernandez. “That’s part of why the town hall was so important — those stories were vocalized and now we’re coming up with means to actually record them so that they can be better quantified and recognized.”
Organizers set up a twitter account, @NotMyLoyola, and are asking students with stories of harassment and profiling by Loyola’s police to share their stories.
Allen’s friend and Loyola senior Austin Bush said he hopes this movement, dubbed #NotMyLoyola, will be a tipping point that will lead to substantial change.
“Seeing brutalized black bodies on your own campus with your own friends makes it more of a thing,” Bush said. “It makes it more personal.”
Senior Kevin Rees, also friends with the two students involved in the incident with Campus Safety, said he thinks the momentum sparked by these demonstrations has connected problems on Loyola’s campus with broader racial issues in America.
“I think it’s really beneficial that these stories are being shared and this phenomenon of what being a minority in America is — where people just come up to you and just say ‘this is you, I know exactly who you are,’ based on nothing but race alone. That’s not a new reality for any person of color who goes to Loyola, and, by extension, I don’t think that’s new in America.”