Staff Editorial

STAFF EDITORIAL: Our Words Only Get Us So Far: Student Government Squanders the Opportunity to Lead

Carly Behm | The PhoenixThe Student Government Office on the second floor of the Damen Student Center.

Much of the country spent Tuesday night watching results from midterm elections with some of the highest voter turnout in decades. Much of the conversation leading up to the elections focused on engagement in all levels of politics, from big national races to the smallest local elections. But there’s a problem with the government most local to Loyola students. Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC) hasn’t been a leader on campus in years. 

It’s not that SGLC hasn’t impacted Loyola policy. It’s that SGLC has missed opportunities time and time again to set the tone of discussion and debate on campus.

SGLC hasn’t taken an extremely active role guiding the campus community since March 2016, when it worked to change Loyola’s policy for on-campus demonstrations and protests.

However, it’s not as if SGLC hasn’t had chances to lead our campus in trying times. 

SGLC is one of the only student groups on campus with a direct line to Loyola administration. 

SGLC is made up of Loyola students’ elected representatives. They have the ability to speak for the student body and ask for input from the student body. Yet, they’ve rarely done either on issues that affect students the most.  

Loyola’s class sizes have continued to grow year after year and, as a result, Loyola faces a student housing crunch. Upperclassmen have been forced onto deferred housing lists and plans for a new dorm have been announced, but SGLC has been silent on this issue. 

There have been no town halls to answer student questions about housing and no action from SGLC to address the problem. Students were forced into temporary housing and overcrowded dorms this year, and SGLC said nothing. 

Sexual assault has been an issue on college campuses for years. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, attention to on-campus sexual assault has increased. 

Loyola hasn’t been exempt from this nationwide issue. According to Loyola’s yearly crime report, there were eight rapes in residence halls last year, a sizeable jump over previous years. 

SGLC could speak out on this issue affecting every single Loyola student. SGLC could take a stand, be a vocal advocate for victims of sexual assault and try to change Loyola’s sexual assault policy. 

Yet, it hasn’t. 

Last year, Loyola’s campus was shaken by an incident in the Damen Student Center during the final men’s basketball game against Illinois State University Feb. 24. The #NotMyLoyola movement called for increased accountability from Campus Safety in its relationship with students of color. 

SGLC could have stood up and led on this issue as it did when it changed the demonstration policy, but it didn’t. A town hall involving Loyola’s administration and more than 300 students did happen after the incident, but it wasn’t called by SGLC. 

After the Damen incident, SGLC did host Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney at one of their spring 2018 meetings to take questions from student legislators and any student attendees, but the Q&A wasn’t prominently advertised and had low attendance.

This year, police said two men were shot and killed near campus by the same person, sending Rogers Park and Loyola into a frenzy of fear and anxiety.

Rumors flew around online about sightings of the suspect and misinformation was rampant. Campus Safety and the Chicago Police Department tried to keep the neighborhood informed of updates to the case but it often wasn’t enough. 

SGLC could have called a town hall to calm students, but it didn’t.

 SGLC used to host safety forums with Campus Safety to field crime questions from students ever so often; however, as attendance from students dropped, those forums ended.

Perhaps with the increase in notable neighborhood crime, these forums would get more interest if they returned.

As a result of the shootings in Rogers Park, students turned to Loyola’s free ride-share service, 8-RIDE. However, The Phoenix reported 8-RIDE had problems forgetting some students who ordered rides. 

SGLC could have called for 8-RIDE to investigate the issue further, but it didn’t. 

This organization represents students’ interests the same way our local, state and federal government represents our interests. 

We should demand the same accountability and leadership from SGLC as we do from our elected representatives. As the supposed representatives of the student body, they owe a duty to each and every Loyola student in representing their voice. Unfortunately, they have recently fallen woefully short of that responsibility, and have become nothing but a token body. That’s why we encourage students to ask SGLC if it’s holding up its end of the bargain; to once again be their voice in Loyola’s administration; to be more than just a symbol.

But hey, at least we have picnic tables on campus now. 

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