As 2020 comes to an end — and many breathe a sigh of relief — The Phoenix takes a look back at the biggest stories covered this year.
Eighty tenured professors agreed to leave Loyola at the end of the 2019-20 academic year after accepting buyouts, which some faculty and students criticized.
University officials said the program was intended to save money, show appreciation to faculty and address students’ changing needs. However, some faculty said the decision was entirely motivated by cost-savings and could reduce Loyola’s quality of education for students by getting rid of experienced professors.
After Chicago saw its first confirmed case of the new coronavirus — later named COVID-19 — Loyola health officials warned the community of the “emerging global health concern.”
At the time, there was no widespread transmission of the disease and no reason to be alarmed, according to officials. People who had traveled to China recently — where the disease was first spread — were advised to avoid contact with people if they felt sick and wash their hands frequently.
Mary Chappell & Kayleigh Padar
A male Loyola student was expelled and banned from campus after a school investigation found he raped a female student, documents showed. However, a Phoenix investigation found that a month later he walked across the graduation stage, shaking Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney’s hand in Loyola’s Gentile Arena.
A 2018 school investigation into a male Loyola professor found “evidence to support the complaint of unprofessional and sexual harassing behavior” against him, records showed. The Phoenix spoke to multiple Loyola graduates who shared their experiences of his behavior.
Students said the male professor would ask questions about students’ sexualities, comment on clothing, and would “constantly” touch, rub or squeeze female students’ shoulders and backs.
Despite the investigation finding evidence to support these claims, it’s still unclear what kind of punishment the male professor received. He continues to teach classes at Loyola.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country, Loyola joined other universities in deciding to switch from in-person to virtual classes and requiring students living in residence halls to move out.
The university said students in certain circumstances would be allowed to remain on campus and students moving out would receive partial housing refunds.
Days after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police, thousands of Chicagoans gathered downtown to protest police brutality.
People marched in the streets or participated in a car caravan near Federal Plaza. Organizers were clear in their intent for the protest to remain peaceful and it largely was.
After the organized protests ended, some storefronts were smashed or looted and two police vehicles were set on fire.
As the fall 2020 semester approached and COVID-19 showed no signs of slowing down, Loyola officials made the decision in July to continue mostly online learning in the fall — still planning for students to live on campus.
While universities across the country were moving their courses online, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced guidelines stating international students couldn’t take a fully online course load and remain in the country.
Loyola officials said they were “troubled” by the ruling and announced legal and legislative actions they were taking to support international students.
About two weeks before students were set to start moving into dorms, Loyola cancelled on-campus living due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement came on Aug. 6, signed by Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney and Provost Noberto Grzywacz.
Loyola spokesperson Anna Rozenich told The Phoenix 1,900 students had housing contracts for the upcoming semester. The university issued refunds to everyone planning to live on campus.
Seven protestors were detained by police, six of whom were Loyola students, during the ninth day of protests near Loyola’s campus Aug. 29.
The protests were led by Our Streets LUC, a student activism group calling for Loyola to cut ties with the Chicago Police Department, and better support Black students, among other things.
The demonstrations came after a summer of protests across the country for racial equality following recent killings of Black people by police.
The group created a list of demands for the university that include cutting ties with the Chicago Police Department, better funding for Black student organizations on campus, hiring more Black faculty members. Another demands include: a public forum with Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney, a public statement from Loyola, formally recognizing Black History Month and following other recommendations made by Black students.
As the almost entirely virtual fall 2020 semester neared the end, Loyola officials announced Oct. 28 the plan for the spring 2021 semester — a limited number of students to live on campus, and some in-person classes.
Up to 10 percent of classes are expected to be in person, and students who had an active housing contract on Aug. 6, when on-campus living was cancelled for the fall semester, have first priority in living on campus in the spring.
The university also announced it would be starting surveillance testing in the spring, which means students planning to be in any campus buildings should expect to be tested regularly in order to access campus facilities.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was called the winner of the 2020 presidential election by the Associated Press on Nov. 7. His victory came after days of ballot counting due to record numbers of mail-in voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
California Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, is set to become the first woman and first person of color to be elected vice president.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit colleges and universities hard this year, causing many to turn to austerity measures — such as furloughs and layoffs — in order to help balance their budgets.
Faculty and student groups at Loyola, and among other Jesuit schools, created a petition to fight back against this, sharing concerns that these measures could endanger the schools’ quality of education, diversity and Ignatian values.
Although the full scope of Loyola’s reductions remains unclear, the school has implemented a series of hiring freezes, suspended worker retirement contributions and cut jobs for staff since May. Officials say the university is finished balancing the budget.