On Feb. 24, 2018, one male Loyola student of color was detained by Campus Safety in the Damen Student Center while another female student was manhandled by an officer. This event set off a month of protests, a hashtag and a petition with 1,700 signatures.
What it didn’t bring was meaningful change.
This isn’t to say that nothing happened, as some of the leaders of the protest were able to get a meeting with President Jo Ann Rooney, where they could advocate that Campus Safety work toward racial justice and more accountability. Unfortunately, they got little concrete action.
Sure, they got the university to convene a task force to look into the incident, and an external investigation firm looked into it as well, but all that resulted from this were non-binding recommendations.
The results of this task force were lackluster, to say the least. In just over seven months, they concluded that there was “no racial profiling by Campus Safety officers in this incident and that the level of force used in the incident was not excessive.”
Additionally, they recommended a training course for officers entitled “Campus Safety at the Speed of Trust.” The goal of this training is to “emphasize trust, character and responsibility in building strong and reciprocal relationships.”
It’s fair to say this didn’t change much.
And the other change from the university came in the form of body cameras, something that should have been a fairly substantial change to how Campus Safety is run, though even this fell short as these tapes will most likely not see the light of day. While this is reasonable in most cases, Loyola has said it probably won’t show these tapes even when there’s a crime or accusation of misconduct.
Loyola isn’t the only party that failed here, though. #NotMyLoyola fell apart as soon as March Madness rolled around. As the men’s basketball team became the nation’s Cinderella, student focus shifted to their TV screens rather than the protests, and, within a month of the incident, the campus had moved on.
If you want to make real change on campus you have to stay focused for more than a month. Change on campus is not going to happen if protestors get distracted by every shiny object that appears.
The protest had a chance of starting up again after March Madness, although many involved in the Campus Safety protests quickly shifted gears when non-tenured faculty threatened to strike amid negotiations with Loyola.
The difference between these protests, though, is the non-tenured faculty actually got something out of their protest. Although they got a new contract with substantive changes, there’s been no substantial, visible change to Campus Safety.
It’s also unclear how Campus Safety operates. The operations of the department remain in a black box.
The #NotMyLoyola protests, even with their failings, were big enough the university should have responded with real change, not unfulfilled promises.
We were promised more transparency, though there remain obvious issues there. We were promised a more effective Campus Safety force, though crimes still get swept under the rug. We were promised change, it hasn’t happened.
In all of these, Loyola has proven it’s not as responsive to students as it claims. A year after the protests, disappointingly little has improved.