During the ongoing student protests on and near Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, university President Jo Ann Rooney was largely silent — even as six students were arrested during a demonstration Aug. 29 in which they were blocking North Sheridan Road.
In a joint statement with Provost Noberto Grzywacz Aug. 31, eleven days after protests began, Rooney finally spoke up. However, the statement emailed to students only made glancing references to the protests and never mentioned the arrests. Rather, the university leaders reaffirmed Loyola’s commitment to racial equality.
The university President and the Provost pointed to a statement released Aug. 28 by Jane Neufeld, Loyola’s vice president for student development and Will Rodriguez, assistant vice president for student development and dean of students.
In Neufeld and Rodriguez’s earlier statement, they wrote, “The Division of Student Development (DSD) affirms that Black lives matter. We acknowledge the stories that students—especially Black-identified students—have shared with us about their experiences at Loyola University Chicago.” A sentiment Rooney and Grzywacz reaffirmed in their email.
In separate statements to The Phoenix, spokespeople for the university indicated the students arrested for refusing to leave the intersection of North Sheridan Road and North Kenmore Avenue Aug. 29 could face discipline from the university.
“The University will continue to support students’ rights to demonstrate and is obligated to respond to reports of potential illegal acts or actions that violate the Community Standards,” wrote Loyola spokesperson Anna Shymanski Zach in an email statement to The Phoenix.
“Students engaging in such behavior could be subject to serious legal consequences and/or a referral to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, which could impact their status at Loyola,” Shymanski Zach wrote.
Shymanski Zach added, “we do not want to see any student in that situation.”
The students were arrested by Chicago Police officers on North Sheridan Road, which is under the jurisdiction of the city of Chicago. The Chicago Police Department (CPD) is the “authorized law enforcement agency,” for the street, according to Shymanski Zach.
Dorien-Perry Tillmon, a protest organizer and among those arrested, declined to be interviewed for this story.
Members of Our Streets LUC — the group responsible for organizing the protests — declared a moratorium on speaking with Phoenix reporters Aug. 30 after the paper kept videos of the protest and arrests on its Twitter amidst demands by demonstrators to take them down.
Phoenix reporters on the scene witnessed Loyola Campus Safety officers standing by during the arrests, wearing clearly marked campus safety shirts — however Shymanski Zach said Campus Safety didn’t have any involvement in the arrests.
Campus Safety officers were on the scene to “protect our students and student protestors to ensure everyone is safe,” Anna Rozenich, another Loyola spokesperson told The Phoenix.
Shymanski Zach wrote the university is committed to continuing conversations with “recognized student groups,” as well as faculty and staff “to move Loyola toward a more actively anti-racist institution,” and added, “The behavior exhibited on Saturday distracts our University from the real work at hand.”
Our Streets LUC is not an officially recognized student group, according to LUCommunity — Loyola’s hub for university groups.
Rozenich said although Our Streets LUC isn’t currently a recognized student organization, Loyola remains committed to hearing out all student voices.
“We care about every student’s view point,” Rozenich said.
Rozenich clarified the university is open to speaking to student organizers and protestors, however she said it’s difficult to know who to reach out to when the group isn’t an official university organization.
“Students would be invited if they would return email and engage in the invitation that has been extended by the dean of students,” Rozenich said.