The Phoenix’s Year in Review: 2021 in News

Nicky Andrews | The PhoenixThe Phoenix looks back at news stories from the past year which saw protests for sexual assault survivors and racial justice, among other things.

As 2021 comes to an end, The Phoenix looks back at the most notable news stories from the past year.

Residence Halls Welcome Back Students After Nearly a Year of Empty Dorms

Zack Miller | The Phoenix A student moves a cart of her belongings into Francis Hall, Loyola’s newest dorm building.

Jan. 20, 2021

In the spring of 2021, Loyola welcomed back approximately 1,100 students to on-campus housing, which equates to only one fourth of students who were forced to leave in March 2020 due to COVID-19. 

The move-in process included a range of regulations to prevent COVID-19 exposure, including a limit to one person to help move the student into their dorm, a recommended one-hour time limit to move in the student’s belongings and a mandatory two week quarantine once the student was moved in. 

“We had to do a lot of prep work,” Clair McDonald, assistant director of assignments, marketing and communication in Residence Life, said. “We did a lot of research on what’s working well at other universities.”  

Tuition to Increase by 2 Percent Next Year, Officials Announce

Feb. 3, 2021

Despite the financial hit many students and families experienced as a result of the pandemic, full-time students saw an additional $910 tacked onto their tuition bills in the 2021-2022 school year.  

Though Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney said she would try to limit tuition increases during her inaugural address, Loyola’s tuition has increased each year of her tenure.

Rooney hasn’t answered The Phoenix’s questions about tuition increases in past years and Loyola spokesperson Anna Rozenich said Rooney was “not available” to speak about this increase. 

Loyola’s Chief Financial Officer Wayne Magdziarz said the increase — which is the lowest in recent years — was necessary to recruit quality faculty, maintain current staff, support students on financial aid and keep future tuition increases reasonable. 

Loyola Students Walk Through Streets Near Campus, Call for More Support of BIPOC Students

Zack Miller | The Phoenix A protester with Our Streets LUC holds up a sign reading “Black lives matter, stop Asian hate.”

Mar. 28, 2021

Loyola students, led by student group Our Streets LUC, marched for the first time since Nov. 2020 in demand for better support of BIPOC students, faculty and staff by the university. Our Streets LUC, who published a list of demands in Aug. 2020, marched four and a half miles with a group of approximately 50 protestors that filled the street blocking traffic. 

“Nothing will get done if we’re not unified,” Dorien Perry-Tillmon, an Our Street LUC leader, said to the group of protestors over a megaphone. “We just gotta keep showing up because if we don’t, then nothing will happen.” 

The protest organizers spoke out against the increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans since the beginning of the pandemic. Around the same time, students also held a vigil to honor the seven victims of the Atlanta spa shootings in March.

Loyola Raises Some Graduate Student Stipends to $28,000 Per Year, Grad Unions Across Chicago Celebrate

Zack Miller | The Phoenix Some Loyola doctoral students will receive an additional $10,000 per academic year following a stipend increase announced by the university April 23.

Apr. 24, 2021

Following years of organizing by Loyola Graduate Workers’ Union (LGWU), Loyola increased some doctoral students’ stipends by $10,000 — nearly a 56% increase.

A member of the union’s organizing committee and former co-chair — Alec Stubbs — said this “enormous success” was the “result of five years of hard work and organizing,” but there’s still more work to be done, and the fight for recognition isn’t over yet.

BREAKING: Loyola Dean of Undergraduate Admission Erin Moriarty Resigns

Katie Anthony | The Phoenix Associate Vice President and Dean of Undergraduate Admission Erin Moriarty resigned from her position at Loyola, effective May 14.

May 13, 2021

Loyola Associate Vice President and Dean of Undergraduate Admission Erin Moriarty resigned after 17 years with the university.

Moriarty was accused of “creating a toxic atmosphere of hostility, intimidation, fear and manipulation within the Undergraduate Admission Office (UAO), especially pertaining to people of color,” although an external investigation concluded Moriarty was not responsible for the described work environment.

Todd Malone, senior associate director of admission, is serving as Interim Dean of Undergraduate Admission.

Thousands Fill Chicago’s Streets Once Again in Support of Palestine

Nicky Andrews | The Phoenix Protestors march during a May 16 rally and march in support of Palestine.

May 17, 2021

Thousands of protestors took to the streets of Chicago throughout the summer months to show their support for Palestine and denounce Israeli violence against the Palestinian people.

Hatem Abuddayeh, the national chair of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, said one of the aims of the protest was to get the attention of U.S. lawmakers.

“We just need to continue to press the people in charge to make sure that they force Israel to stop,” Abudayyeh told The Phoenix. “The U.S. government is just as responsible for this as Israel is.”

Students Challenge Loyola’s Rejections to Vaccine Exemption Requests

Zack Miller | The Phoenix Loyola signage reminds students to wear a mask and remain socially distant while on campus.

Sept. 1, 2021

More than 40 Loyola students used the legal services of Liberty Counsel, a Christian non-profit organization, to get COVID-19 vaccination exemptions approved by the university.

All the students who were represented by Liberty Counsel initially applied for a COVID-19 vaccine exemption, arguing their religious beliefs forbid them from taking vaccines that are “produced or tested with fetal cell lines” derived from abortions, according to the Aug. 5 press release.

Students were informed of Loyola’s vaccination exemption in an April 22 email, The Phoenix reported.

‘I’m disappointed she wasn’t the president we had hoped for’ : Students and Faculty Reflect on Rooney’s Tenure as Her Final Year as President Begins

Courtesy of Natalie Battaglia Loyola University Chicago President Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD, on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus, August 3, 2016.

Sept. 15, 2021

After Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney announced she plans to resign at the end of the academic year, the university community shared mixed feelings about her tenure.

When announcing her departure, Rooney cited “deep reflection,” “some personal issues” and a “desire to ensure continuity of leadership” as the university implements a new strategic plan.

Students and faculty shared concerns about Rooney’s leadership style, which some said seemed to lack shared governance. The Loyola community also critiqued her handling of racial injustice at the university and her implementation of yearly tuition increases. 

‘Kick Them Out’: Hundreds of Loyola Community Members Join Protest Demanding Accountability for Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Nicky Andrews | The Phoenix A protester at a demonstration Sept. 17 calling for the university to hold students accused of sexual misconduct accountable holds a poster.

Sep. 17, 2021

The Phoenix covered a Sept. 17 protest, made up of hundreds of students and community members, that demanded accountability for students accused of sexual misconduct. 

The protest, which started at the Sullivan Student Center and made its way through campus to Mertz Hall, came after the surface of an instagram account with the goal of exposing the identities of students accused of sexual assault and misconduct. 

“We are just wanting to raise awareness, provide support, provide resources to victims of sexual violence and make sure they know they are heard, they are valued and that their voices matter,” an organizer of the protest, who didn’t want to share their name, told The Phoenix.

‘It just seemed like they didn’t expect anybody to get COVID’: Inside Loyola’s COVID-19 Quarantine Dorm

Josh Knutsen | The Phoenix One of the bedrooms Loyola assigned a student with COVID-19 in St. Louis Hall.

Sep. 22, 2021

Students who reported a positive COVID-19 test while living in on-campus dorms were promptly moved to a quarantine dorm for ten days this past semester. After being left with a trash bag full of linens and key to their room, multiple students voiced a range of challenges they faced while recovering from COVID-19 in isolation. 

“I was feeling horribly sick and laying in that bed with no mattress pad, no real sheets and just couldn’t sleep the whole night,” first-year Carmen Fiarito said.

Protesters Take to Chicago’s Streets Over Rittenhouse Verdict

Zack Miller | The Phoenix Executive director of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) addresses a crowd of protesters in Federal Plaza Nov. 20.

Nov. 20, 2021

Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of Chicago Nov. 20 following Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal the day prior.

Love Jordan, a 2016 Loyola graduate who grew up in Kenosha, took part in the protest.

“Because of how many times we’ve heard ‘not guilty,’ it’s like we’re being dared to keep being angry at being killed,” the 28-year-old said.

‘I could’ve gotten hurt’ : Phoenix Investigation Finds Dining Hall Issues 

University Introduces Dining Hall Reforms Amid ‘Uptick in Gastrointestinal Illness’

Courtesy of Mareez Saad / Griffin Krueger | The Phoenix The Phoenix collected accounts from 20 students who said they’ve either gotten sick after eating at Loyola’s dining halls or found something in their food.

Dec. 1, 2021

Dec. 10, 2021

A Phoenix investigation revealed accounts from 20 students who said they got sick after eating food served at Loyola’s dining halls, and one reported finding a shard of glass in her salad.

Health and safety records from Chicago’s Public Health Department show Loyola’s dining halls have failed inspections in recent years, or have passed despite violations being issued.

“Nothing is more important to LUC Dining than food safety and the customer experience we deliver,” said Aramark spokesperson Heather Dotchel in an email to The Phoenix. “We take all customers’ concerns about food quality very seriously and investigate every concern that is brought to our attention,” she said.

Students raised questions about Loyola’s ongoing partnership with the company that operates its dining halls — Aramark. Aramark has faced criticism from students in the past, including allegations of racism and health and safety concerns.

Loyola spokesperson Anna Rozenich said Loyola has no plans to cut ties with the company. 

In the final weeks of the fall semester, Loyola’s dining halls introduced new safety measures, including new cleaning and food service procedures following an uptick in “gastrointestinal illnesses,” according to Loyola spokesperson Anna Shymanski Zach.

Loyola Announces COVID-19 Booster Shot Requirement

Dec. 15, 2021

Zack Miller | The Phoenix All students, faculty and staff are required to receive a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, Loyola officials announced in an email.

Loyola announced all students will be required to receive COVID-19 booster shots as soon as they’re eligible in a Dec. 15 email sent to the Loyola community. 

Faculty, staff and students are expected to upload proof they received their booster shots before returning to campus for the Spring 2022 semester. It’s unclear what consequences, if any, someone could face if they don’t get a booster. 

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