Best of News 2023-24

The news section had a busy year covering everything from student organizations to feel-good stories on campus.

The news section had a busy year covering everything from student organization events to feel-good stories on campus and in the greater Chicago area. While some were easier on the heart than others, they all played an important role in highlighting the beauty and diversity of the Loyola community. 

Some of our best articles included coverage of protests by Students for Justice in Palestine, new SGLC legislation and resignations and the planned demolition of 1234 W. Loyola Ave. 

Our coverage stretched beyond the boundaries of Loyola’s campus at times, such as in our story on a vigil for a drive-by shooting victim who attended Senn High School and through coverage of an environmental strike in downtown Chicago.

Back in Rogers Park, it was a pleasure to cover the story of Loyola lovers Jean Gustavson and Steve Watts, who reunited after 42 years apart and about our beloved Sister Jean turning 104.

Thank you all for a wonderful year of coverage. Peace and love from the news section of The Phoenix.

 ‘I just knew things were gonna work out between us’: Couple That Met at Loyola Reunites After 42 years

Originally published Sept. 6, 2023

Jeanne Gustavson and Steve Watts called it love at first sight when they first met at Loyola in 1971. Despite breaking up 42 years ago, the interracial couple found peace on campus despite disapproving families and what Gustavson described as a “still segregated” Chicago. 

Three years ago, they reunited.

Gustavson and Watts, who both graduated with German degrees, attended Loyola in 1971 — Watts a fourth-year and Gustavson a first-year. They met at a meeting for German Club, of which Watts was the president. Gustavson said she noticed Watts immediately when he walked in. 

“He was striking,” Gustavson said. “I don’t know what other word to use. He was just dashing.” 

Watts later said to Gustavson their first encounter was “love at first sight” for him. The couple started dating shortly after and stayed together for seven years, despite opposition from Gustavson’s family because i Watts was Black. 

Gustavson cited a time when her mother visited the dean’s office at Loyola, complaining about Gustavson’s relationship with Watts and demanding they be kept apart. Her mother even went so far as to try and get her own daughter expelled from the university, according to Gustavson. 

After Gustvason graduated and Watts entered graduate school for linguistics, she decided to end their relationship. Gustavson said she regretted the decision immediately – and continued to for the rest of her life.  

“I broke up with him in a terrible way,” Gustavson said. “I was getting a lot of pressure from my family and my relationship with my mother had been rocky ever since this whole thing with Steve came about. I didn’t see how the relationship was going to move forward.”

Read the rest of the article by Lilli Malone and Isabella Grosso here.

Loyola Buys Local Property, Displacing Residents and Local Businesses

Originally published Jan. 31, 2024

Loyola purchased the property at 1226-1234 W. Loyola Ave. Dec 19, adding the building to their list of  properties owned in the surrounding area.

Michael Loftsgaarden, Loyola’s vice president of capital planning, said there are currently no construction plans, but the building will be torn down once the leases run out in September 2025. 

“The reality of the situation was we felt like, ‘Hey, we got this for a good price that makes sense to us,’” Loftsgaarden said. “Its assemblage value is the primary driver here for a future development, whatever, it just makes total sense for that. But again, there’s nothing on the board right now.”

Lofstgaarden said he was approached by a broker representing Mark Gerb — the building’s previous owner — April 29. After months of negotiations and reviewing the legal terms of purchase, the university officially bought the property. 

Loftsgaarden said the price Loyola purchased the building for — $3 million — was far below the previous owner’s asking price due to the poor state of the building, which he said isn’t functionally or fiscally sustainable. 

“Our plan is to let all our leases run out in the building,” Loftsgaarden said. “As leases come available, we’re not renewing, and the plan will be to vacate the building and after that try to get it demolished.”

Read the rest of the article by Hailey Gates here.

Students Protest for Divestment After Finance Town Hall

Originally published Feb. 21, 2024

Members of the Coalition for Solidarity and Justice protested against Loyola’s investments in companies that construct weapons used in Israel’s attacks on Gaza in the Damen Student Center following a financial town hall meeting Feb. 14. 

Around 100 students gathered in Damen around 12:30 p.m. holding signs with messages such as “Stop Funding War” and chanting “Board of Trustees, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.” A banner reading “WAR IS DEATH LOYOLA DIVEST” was held by students over the balcony on the second floor. 

Multiple students gave speeches during the protest where they expressed anger with Loyola’s investments and drew attention to things they said students can do to raise awareness and help the cause. 

Students for Justice in Palestine President Lena Abushaban said the main purpose of the protest was to bring attention to Loyola’s investments and to also make it a point to attend the town hall.

“Knowing divestment has been something that has been on everybody’s plate for a while now, we decided that today might have been the best day to protest against the university’s awful, awful investments,” Abushaban said. “There’s a lot of traffic in here today. We wanted to make sure that we were being seen and we were being heard.”

Read the rest of the article by Isabella Grosso here.

Loyola Hosts Peacebuilding Discussion with Former Irish President

Originally published Feb. 21, 2024

The College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Theology co-hosted a roundtable discussion with former President of Ireland Mary McAleese Feb. 16. The discussion, organized and moderated by Dr. Miguel Díaz and Dr. Hille Haker in the Theology department, revolved around the former president’s peacebuilding achievements. 

During the event, McAleese discussed her experiences growing up in Northern Ireland amidst sectarian warfare caused by religious differences and socioeconomic disparity. She described how her childhood experiences informed her passion for bridge-building, advising those in attendance to reach out to others with empathy regardless of social and political differences.

“In the middle of binariness and sectarianism, there are resolves and opportunities for the individual somehow to break through with love,” said McAleese, 72.  “And that’s what you can’t ever give up on.” 

McAleese, who held office from 1997 to 2011, is known for her role in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, according to her biography on Loyola’s website. The agreement ended a 30-year period of warfare in Northern Ireland, according to the BBC.

Read the rest of the article by Hailey Gates here.

Loyola CFO Discusses University Finances at Town Hall

Originally published Feb. 21, 2024

In the second series of finance town halls hosted this school year, Wayne Magdziarz — Loyola’s senior vice president, chief financial officer and chief business officer — discussed how trends in higher education are affecting Loyola and detailed the university’s operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year. 

Magdziarz began his presentation — which was hosted in the Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, BVM Multi-Purpose Room Feb. 14 — by discussing issues other universities have been facing including budget shortfalls, staff hiring freezes and budget cuts for university programs. 

He said despite problematic industry-wide trends including declining enrollment and increasing expenses, Loyola is in a good position to avoid layoffs or significant budget cuts. This is due to the university being in a good place with its debt level and its ability to maintain a comparatively low tuition discount rate for first-year students, according to Magdziarz. 

Forecasts for the current fiscal year project Loyola’s results of operations, or net profit, will total between $10 million and $15 million even though originally the university only budgeted for $5 million in left over funds, according to Magdziarz. 

Read the rest of the article by Griffin Krueger here.

Facilities in Process of Installing New Water Filters

Originally published March 13, 2024

New filters at campus water bottle filling stations began installation over winter break, less than a month after an article about the filters was published by The Phoenix. Accompanying the new filters, Facilities placed stickers with QR codes over the filters’ indicator lights, which are now incompatible with the new brand of filter.

The QR code on the stickers, found on the Lake Shore, Water Tower and Health Sciences campuses, leads to information about the new filters and the quality of Lake Michigan water, which Loyola uses. Water from Lake Michigan exceeds state, federal and industry standards, according to the site and the Chicago Tribune. Filters are expected to be completely updated by the end of summer 2024.

The filters were removed from water bottle filling stations during the pandemic since they were no longer in use but weren’t reimplemented for three years following students’ return to campus, The Phoenix previously reported.

After the previous article was published Nov. 29, chemistry professor Daniel Becker wrote in an email to The Phoenix that the university’s covering of the filter lights with stickers was concerning. Over the past two years, Becker has advocated for updated filters and more transparency from Facilities.

Read the rest of the article by Mao Reynolds here.

Loyola’s Student Environmental Alliance Joins Fossil Fuel Financing Strike

Originally published Sept. 30, 2023

Loyola’s Student Environmental Alliance joined Fridays For Future Chicago, a youth advocacy group for climate justice, on the frontlines to encourage putting an end to fossil fuel financing Sept. 15.

The groups, consisting of high school and college students, marched through The Loop and Pritzker Park and rallied in front of notable banks, particularly JPMorgan Chase & Co., to demand the banks stop investing in fossil fuels. 

JPMorgan Chase is the number one contributor to fossil fuel financing at $434 billion as of 2022, exceeding other mega-banks by millions, according to Banking on Climate Chaos

Fossil fuels are one of the biggest contributors to global warming, land degradation and pollution, according to The National Resources Defence Council. The fossil fuel industry remains extremely profitable, making it attractive for banks to invest in, according to the council. 

Read the rest of the article by Lilli Malone and Laila Ali here.

Beloved Sister Jean turns 104

Originally published Sept. 6, 2023

Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, BVM celebrated her 104th birthday Aug. 21, prompting festivities at Loyola’s Water Tower campus and in Chicago during the first week of classes. 

Celebrations began Aug. 28 when Schmidt threw the first pitch of the Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers game at Wrigley Field, according to Loyola spokesperson Matt McDermott.

President Mark C. Reed also attended the game with Schmidt.

“I have many Sister Jean memories that are favorites but really being on the field with her Monday at Wrigley Field — that will stay with me for the rest of my life,” Reed said to The Phoenix.

Celebrations for the week concluded at the Water Tower Campus block party where students gathered to sing “Happy Birthday” to Schmidt, according to the press release. 

Read the rest of the article by Lilli Malone and Hunter Minnè here.

Trinity Church Chicago Hosts Vigil for Shooting Victims From Senn High School 

Originally published Feb. 7, 2024

Trinity Church Chicago, a non-denominational church located at 1244 W. Thorndale Ave., hosted a vigil Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. for Edgewater community members to grieve the death of Daveon Gibson, a 16-year-old Senn High School student who was shot and killed Jan. 31.

Gibson was fatally shot at approximately 3:37 p.m. on the 1200 block of W. Thorndale Ave., about a half mile away from Loyola’s campus, according to a public safety update from 48th Ward Alderwoman Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth.

Three teens, including Gibson, were walking when a vehicle pulled up, according to a speech to the press by Chicago Police Superintendent Larry Snelling. Snelling said several individuals got out of the vehicle and began shooting in the direction of the teens. All three teens were shot. 

One victim, a 16-year-old, is in critical condition and the other, a 15-year-old, is in stable condition, according to the public safety update.

Read the rest of the article by Julia Pentasuglio here.

SGLC Chief Justice Resigns, Legislation is Passed at Senate Meeting

Originally published Dec. 6, 2023

Chief Justice Paige Gutierrez announced her resignation from her elected position in Student Government of Loyola Chicago during their Dec. 5 senate meeting, citing the organization’s negative impact on her mental health. Gutierrez’s resignation prompted an emergency internal election to elect the new Chief Justice Lindsey Elliot. 

The meeting included the approval of two new pieces of legislation and the introduction of five new executive orders from SGLC President Alexandra Brist.

Gutierrez said in a speech to the SGLC body she had to take a leave of absence earlier this semester due to her mental health, which caused her to receive backlash from some members of SGLC. 

Gutierrez said while she enjoyed working with other members of the organization throughout the semester, the culture of SGLC hindered her from feeling satisfied with the work she had been doing.

“I felt underappreciated, disrespected and undervalued as branch leader despite how I’ve been chosen for this role by the student body,” Gutierrez said in her speech.

Read the rest of the article by Julia Pentasuglio here.

Shelter Stay Policy Enforcement Throughout Chicago Sparks Changes

Originally published Jan. 31, 2024

The city of Chicago announced a shelter stay policy Nov. 17 in an attempt to accelerate the process of resettlement for shelter arrivals. The press release from Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s Press Office states the policy intends to improve engagement between arrivals and public benefits as well as other support provided by the city.

The policy implements a staggered process of distributing 60-day exit notices to current shelter residents based on the date individuals arrived at the shelter, according to the press release.

As the policy has been enforced throughout the city, 16 alderpeoeple — including 49th Ward Alderwoman Maria Hadden and 48th Ward Alderwoman Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth — signed a letter Jan. 25 encouraging Johnson to rescind the policy due to its ineffectiveness and danger to the safety of new arrivals.

Read the rest of the article by Julia Pentasuglio here.

Flag Demonstration Honors Palestinians Killed in Gaza

Originally published Feb. 14, 2024

Students for Justice in Palestine placed an exhibit representing the Palestinian flag on the field in front of Francis Hall Feb. 8 as a demonstration to honor the Gazans killed by Israeli forces since October.

The exhibit included about 23,000 smaller flags staked into the ground, which together formed the Palestinian flag. Names of about 27,000 of those who have been killed were written on each of the flags as a way to honor their lives, according to Lena Abushaban, a fourth-year student and president of SJP.

Israel declared war on Hamas after an Oct. 7 attack upon Israeli towns outside of the Gaza strip by Hamas militants which led to increased military action, according to the Associated Press. Since then, more than 25,105 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and more than 62,681 have been wounded as of Jan. 21, according to AP.

Abushaban said it was important for SJP to have the chance to honor the lives lost. 

Read the rest of the article by Lilli Malone here.

Share the post