Staff Editorial

STAFF EDITORIAL: Students’ activism misplaced on new residence hall

Courtesy of Loyola University St. Josephs residence hall has been approved for construction by the Loyola Board of Trustees to be completed by fall of 2020. It’s expected to cost $47 million.

Loyola is growing. This growth impacts class sizes, the school’s national standing, the shuttle system, the Campus Safety department’s ability to protect students and, most immediately, where students live. 

The housing crisis at Loyola has caused upperclassmen to be denied on-campus housing and forced first-years to live in converted triple rooms. As if that wasn’t enough, the school was prepared to house students in study lounges last fall.

As class sizes have grown, Loyola’s need for a new residence hall has become clear. In the fall, Loyola’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved building a new $47 million residence hall. 

Loyola isn’t a perfect school, and this editorial board surely knows its problems. We’ve highlighted problems within the Campus Safety department and Loyola’s administration, and we’ve pointed to the inconveniences caused by the housing crisis. 

But Loyola is taking action on the crisis. Obviously a new dorm won’t be livable tomorrow, but Loyola needs more housing and it’s taking steps to accomplish that. 

While the university is attempting to make living on the Lake Shore Campus a little bit easier, some students are signing a petition to stop the building’s construction. 

The students are joining the Edgewater Historical Society’s attempt to protect an apartment building Loyola plans to tear down to build the dorm. 

The Historical Society argues that demolishing the building will release lead paint dust into the neighborhood and the old apartment building should be protected. 

Loyola already owns the building set to be torn down, so the school can do what it wants with its own property. 

Loyola owns most of the buildings on the block, with Simpson Living Learning Center right across the street and Regis Residence Hall nearby, limiting the impact on non-students in the area.

While the building might have lead paint, the Environmental Protection Agency does recommend using what it calls “lead-safe” demolition practices when tearing down buildings built before 1978 and the dust can impact the surrounding environment.

We aren’t advocating for exposing the area to lead, but every one of Loyola’s new developments in recent years has been officially certified as being environmentally friendly.

Our problem isn’t with the Edgewater Historical Society. It’s with students shooting themselves in the foot. 

Loyola needs a new residence hall. It’s one of this university’s most pressing problems — just ask students living in cramped dorms or forced to find their own housing after being denied an on-campus option. The protesting students themselves are bound to be affected by this issue.

Loyola students have a strong history of important and successful activism. A group of students marched in the streets protesting the Kent State shooting in the ‘60s. Another group, including the student body president, managed to get the university to change the school’s entire on-campus demonstration policy, the #NotMyLoyola movement managed to get an internal investigation into Campus Safety started. 

But the activist population on campus isn’t on the right side of this issue. There are plenty of issues on campus that deserve real attention from students, but instead, the student activists are training their sights on a residence hall the school desperately needs. 

The activist body is an important and necessary part of Loyola’s past, present and future. It just needs to focus on more pressing concerns. 

There are bigger fish to fry. Why protest something that will change Loyola for the better?

Clarification: The Edgewater Historical Society would like us to clarify that although their petition opposes the demolitions, they don’t oppose a new dorm.

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