Loyola to Create Task Force, Use Body Cameras Following Student Demonstrations

Christopher Hacker | The PHOENIXAfter a student demonstration, Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney offered to meet with several organizers from #NotMyLoyola. However, due to scheduling conflicts and dissatisfaction by organizers of unmet demands, they turned down the meeting.

Loyola will implement body cameras for Campus Safety officers, an independent review task force and a “community policing curriculum,” according to a statement from university President Jo Ann Rooney, following pressure from student activists alleging racial profiling by Campus Safety.

On Feb. 24, Loyola student Alan Campbell was arrested by Campus Safety and Paloma Fernandez was seized by the collar of her shirt for allegedly interfering in a Campus Safety search.

The incident spurred a movement called #NotMyLoyola, in which students have called on administration to face alleged racism on campus. Students with the movement organized events the week following the Feb. 24 incident. A walkout, petition and town hall united students who say they’ve had negative experiences with Campus Safety and university administration because of their race.

Now, Rooney’s statement, sent to The PHOENIX on Tuesday, said the task force committee will be comprised of faculty, staff, students and outside experts in order to investigate the Feb. 24 incident. The committee will begin work by the week of March 26 and its final decision will be shared by Rooney with the Loyola community by April 13, according to the statement.

Loyola administration is in the process of purchasing body cameras for Campus Safety officers, which Rooney said was in talks before the incident, and expects them to be in “full use” by fall 2018.

The police training curriculum, called “Policing at the Speed of Trust,” is designed to help police and citizens establish stronger trust.

“These initial steps and discussions are elements of a larger conversation about diversity and inclusion and authentic community connections at Loyola,” Rooney’s statement said. “Beginning soon and extending through the spring, we will gather in a series of discussions to listen and learn from each other about how we fashion a community commensurate with our intentions and aspirations.”

A representative from the #NotMyLoyola movement said the administration had offered several key organizers a meeting for noon on Monday, which the students declined because of scheduling conflicts and exclusivity of the meeting. The representative said the administration was unable to reschedule, but Rooney’s statement said otherwise.

“I am very willing to meet and enter into productive dialogue and action-oriented work with students,” Rooney said. “I am confident we can find an initial time and day that will work for all of us and, that together, we will be able to develop action plans and implementation steps.”

The #NotMyLoyola movement’s Facebook page released a statement Sunday saying its demands for the meeting were “disregarded” by Loyola administration.

The movement’s demands have included a written apology from the university, including Campus Safety, and a meeting with Rooney open to the Loyola student body. The students also requested Campbell and Fernandez be excused from any sanctions by the university.

According to the group’s statement, only certain students received emails from dean of students Will Rodriguez to meet with Rooney. Students involved in the movement deemed  the invitation unsatisfactory because not all students involved were invited to the meeting.

“As well, Will Rodriguez has e-mailed some organizers, who the Administration considers deserving, to meet with Dr. Jo Ann Rooney,” the statement on the #NotMyLoyola Facebook page said. “Their request for the demands, an open meeting, and a flexible time to maximize attendance have all been ignored.”

The statement from #NotMyLoyola said activists will continue to push for their demands to be met and organize a meeting with Rooney.

“The movement wants, and will continue to demand, a meeting with Dr. Rooney and administration, but will not take the crumbs that they have offered,” the statement said. “#NOTMYLOYOLA wants an honest seat at the table, not a mouse trap to fall into.”

In response to the student activism, Campus Safety Sgt. Tim Cunningham said the department’s policy prohibits “biased-based profiling” by employees.

“The department encourages people to bring forward any grievances regarding misconduct by employees,” Cunningham said in a statement to The PHOENIX.

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