Last weekend, the streets surrounding Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus were filled with cheers — oftentimes flowing out of apartment windows — each time the Loyola men’s basketball team scored. When the Ramblers beat the University of Illinois March 21, that energy overflowed into the streets, culminating in a maskless mosh pit blocking traffic in the middle of North Sheridan Road.
Obviously, this is an incredibly exciting time. We’re proud to be Loyola students. But that showing of school spirit on Sheridan Road was downright embarrassing.
Like our editorial board said last week, this isn’t the way we should be celebrating during a pandemic.
Several Phoenix staffers were first-years when the team went to the Final Four in 2018. We’re trying to relish the tournament run once again, but things are much different now than they were in 2018 when a sea of students jumped and cheered in the Damen Student Center as they watched the Ramblers advance through the tournament on a projector. We’re terribly sad to have to follow the tournament without getting rowdy, but we also have to be considerate of those around us.
This year, we have to modify the way we cheer on the team, and more importantly, we have to be good neighbors and keep each other safe.
As guests in Rogers Park, we have a responsibility to do our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the neighborhood. There are families and working people who live here and who have to stay healthy in order to make ends meet. While Loyola students have the privilege of frequent testing and other cushy resources on campus — that just isn’t the reality for many in the neighborhood.
Because Loyola administration invited students back on campus this semester and opened the doors to some in-person classes this semester, they’re also responsible for facilitating a safe environment — and that’s what we thought they were preaching this semester — until Phoenix reporters saw Campus Safety officers taking pictures with partiers.
By openly taking photos with students, Campus Safety sent a message — intentional or not — that there was something seemingly okay about this behavior. While the university sent a March 12 email asking students to celebrate the tournament safely, it’s clear some Campus Safety officers didn’t get the message.
Five days after it happened, the university sent a statement condemning the gathering and encouraging students to celebrate safely or risk possible referral to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.
While we’re happy administrators addressed the elephant in the room, their message should have come sooner. The university should have promptly addressed and admonished the incident — which was witnessed by hundreds of students, countless people driving along North Sheridan Road and thousands more on social media.
We’re all adults here, so students must take responsibility for their actions — but at the same time, Loyola officials owe it to the community to enforce the COVID-19 guidelines it claims to espouse no matter if a sports team has won big or not.
If you were out there in the mosh pit that day, consider getting tested and at the very least wear a mask (or even better — two) so the efforts of the students, faculty and neighbors who are following COVID-19 guidelines actually pay off.
When President Joe Biden won the 2020 Election, we saw a safe celebration in Rogers Park and Edgewater as people honked their horns and cheered while some walked down the street socially distanced and masked. If the team advances, this is exactly what students should be doing.
We’re hoping the university is preparing to handle things better this weekend when the team plays in the Sweet 16. If the team advances — the celebration may be even wilder, and we implore Loyola to do more to keep students healthy.