Executive Director of Loyola’s Office for Equity and Compliance (OEC) Tim Love spoke at a student government meeting Sept. 28, addressing recent controversy over the university’s handling of sexual misconduct reports.
The Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC) meeting took place 11 days after hundreds of Loyola students and community members protested on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus calling for the university to hold students accused of sexual misconduct accountable, among other things, The Phoenix previously reported.
Love began the meeting by addressing recent allegations made by students on social media that Loyola doesn’t properly investigate reports of sexual misconduct.
Love said he’s aware of the stories and allegations circulating social media but defended his office, which handles cases involving gender-based discrimination. Love said the OEC investigates every report it receives and that it hasn’t received any reports of sexual misconduct in the residence halls this year.
“Any social media posting or rumors or discussions to the contrary are inaccurate,” Love said. “The narratives that are being circulated, I’m not saying that those are necessarily inaccurate — I don’t know. What I know is that the message that the university has failed to address reports or has failed to investigate complaints that we have received is inaccurate.”
One social media account created Sept. 13 exposes the identities of Loyola students who have been accused of sexual assault — including their full names, photos and social media accounts — The Phoenix reported. The account has amassed almost 2,000 followers and has 15 posts that detail claims of sexual assault, as of Oct. 5.
The anonymously owned account claims Loyola doesn’t properly handle cases of sexual assault.
“LUC completely washes their hands of any responsibility they hold towards WHY students do not trust the University to handle their assault case with respect,” the account said in a post Sept. 15. “Rather than addressing the multiple cases which they have fumbled, LUC decided to blame my account for universal distrust within the Loyola community.”
Another post from Sept. 13 said, “Loyola has a long and storied history of covering up assault.”
This isn’t the first time students have expressed frustration with Loyola’s sexual assault investigation process.
Three Loyola students accused a male student of sexually assaulting them in separate on-campus incidents, The Phoenix reported in 2019. Although the male student was found guilty of rape, the decision came after months, and the “serial predator” was allowed to remain at Loyola during the investigation.
That same year, a male Loyola student who was found guilty of rape in April 2019 was allowed to walk the stage at graduation in May, The Phoenix reported.
A Loyola professor also continued to hold classes even after a university investigation found evidence of, “Unprofessional and sexual harassing behavior,” The Phoenix reported in March 2020. School officials wouldn’t say how the professor was punished after the investigation, and they only said that disciplinary action was taken.
Some SGLC senators who attended the meeting spoke with The Phoenix, but they clarified they’re sharing their own perspectives and can’t speak on behalf of the SGLC body.
Second-year Senator Joseph Kosman asked Love during SGLC’s meeting if there have been any changes or new policies implemented since the campus-wide protest Sept. 17. There haven’t been, Love said.
“That’s not to say we’re not listening,” Love said. “What I can say is that in our attempts to listen and to understand where the needs are, what will be really helpful to us as a university and us as an office is if students have constructive ideas, if students have specific requests or critiques that they want to engage in discussion about, I am available.”
But Kosman told The Phoenix he thinks “it’s a two-way street,” and Love needs to come to students, too.
“My impression [of Love’s speech] was that he is very knowledgeable obviously about his department and what his department is trying to do,” Kosman said in an interview with The Phoenix. “He seems open and receptive to certain changes that could be made within [OEC]. … But one takeaway is that he doesn’t seem that involved with the student body.”
Kosman said there’s a “disconnect” between Love’s office and the student body — and the resulting lack of trust is why students turn to other avenues, such as social media, for support and to share their stories.
Improving the OEC’s communication with students is the first step to regaining their trust, Kosman said, but it’s not going to happen overnight.
Kosman said other senators at the meeting suggested “great ideas” for improving the OEC’s policies and communication, such as having greater social media presence, starting a newsletter and consolidating existing resources so they’re easier for students to find.
“I hope that Tim [Love] takes those ideas back to his department and actually debates about implementing them,” Kosman said. “It’s up to his office now on whether they want to implement those.”
Senator Rameen Awan asked Love during the meeting if there are liaisons between the OEC and students. Love said there aren’t, but added it was a “great suggestion.”
Awan told The Phoenix she’s happy with his answer given the complexities in creating such a position.
“I’m sure that he would have to have this discussion with multiple other people and probably multiple other departments as well, in terms of bringing a position like that up in OEC or in SGLC,” Awan said in an interview with The Phoenix. “I was satisfied that he was open to the idea and open to having this conversation and discussion to have a student leader working with OEC.”
Like Kosman, Awan said she believes a lot of students’ distrust of the university comes from a lack of communication. Awan also highlighted the importance of social media in order to help students find resources.
“I think that a lot of the time social media is a place that a lot of people in our generation will go to for easily accessible resources,” Awan said.
Awan said it could be easier for students, especially when they’re vulnerable, to go onto a social media page to find resources rather than digging through a website on a computer. She also said the Loyola community — including administrators and students — should keep the needs of survivors at the center of any discussion surrounding sexual misconduct.
“I know a lot of the times what can feel like, or what starts off as good intentions with advocacy, can often override or overrule the voices of the people who are hurting, whether that be publicly or silently,” Awan said. “So I think it’s really important to keep survivors at the forefront.”
The Division of Student Development addressed the stories and allegations of sexual misconduct circulating social media in a school-wide email sent Oct.1.
“Like many universities around the country, we find ourselves in uncharted waters with the ways students have used social media anonymously this year to both share personal stories of sexual misconduct and to make very serious and public accusations naming specific students as offenders,” the email reads.
The email states that the university, “Honors the rights of a survivor to tell their story.”
“As a University, we have a responsibility to deeply reflect on the harm and trauma that gender-based violence causes and the manner in which it can be prevented in our community,” the email reads.
The email also says Loyola has, “A responsibility to afford every student due process before considering disciplinary or other responsive action.”