By: Kamdyn Rhodes (Loyola Sophomore)
Loyola students questioned the authenticity of the school’s new anti-racism initiative announced via email from President Jo Ann Rooney on October 20th.
A summer filled with civil unrest following the death of George Floyd led to a rise of activism and protests on campus calling for Loyola to divest from the Chicago Police Department.
Our Streets LUC, a community organization started by students, wrote a list of demands at the beginning of the school year. These demands urged Loyola’s administration to demonstrate more support for Black students and staff. Many students and student organizations signed the list of demands.
Following the list of demands were daily protests around campus starting August 21st. After weeks of protest blocking dense intersections and several students getting arrested, the administration agreed to meet with some of the student leaders to come to a solution.
After several weeks of meetings between students and administration, President Rooney sent out an email outlining the school’s plans to support Black and People of Color (POC) students.
These new policies included public support of Black Lives Matter (BLM), mandatory racial bias training for first-year students, a Black Student Taskforce, expanded mental health resources for Black-identified students, Black History Month as a university holiday, new grants for POCs, and a new Institute for Racial Justice.
Students struggle feeling heard and understood as the school’s efforts fail to fulfill the Our Streets LUC’s list of demands.
“I definitely do not agree with the anti-racism initiative,” said sophomore Diha Arora. “It fails to investigate and fire Erin Moriarity, it fails to cut ties with CPD, and it does not seem to put Black lives at the forefront despite claiming that Black Lives Matter.”
Arora calls for firing the Dean of undergraduate admission office, Erin Moriarity, after the resignation letter of former undergraduate admissions employee, Marcus Mason, circulated online. Mason raised issues regarding the environment of the undergraduate admissions office. Notably discussing the behavior of Moriarity, including her “bias, disrespect, and intimidation of people of color.”
When asked what Loyola could do differently, Arora said “I would ask the administration to actually listen to the demands of the students from Our Streets and BCC [Black Cultural Center] as they have concrete plans and have discussed replacement options that I fully support.”
A common thread tying the student’s answers together was the confusion of why these efforts weren’t seen earlier.
One LUC sophomore said, “I agree with the idea that we need to address the issue and that we should have a ban on certain words and have training but the way it’s being addressed has me confused as to why this wasn’t addressed earlier, before George Floyd and the events that happened over the summer.”
Awareness of Loyola’s previous lack of acknowledgement of race issues on campus is growing. Students are confused and disappointed as to why these issues were not addressed earlier.
Another Loyola sophomore, Charlene Coates, said “I think that it’s long overdue and it’s a shame that it took this long for a policy like this to come about.”
Students seem to have a lack of trust in Loyola’s administration. Arora believes the new initiative “is a PR plan to protect the image of LUC.”
To gain that trust back Coates said she wants to see “true and authentic urgency” in accomplishing the proposed policies. Student’s emails from administration are “flowery and heavy worded emails that have impeccably vague conclusions. It all just comes off as performative,” said Coates. “Urgency will reveal if the administration is willing to put their money where their mouth is.”
There is some hope for the future coming from the students. While Coates said, “Loyola needs to be more transparent with the student body,” another sophomore said, “as long as we do better moving forward.”
The overall consensus received from these interviews is that Loyola is on the right track with the anti-racism initiative but there is still so much work and growth to be done.
The answers from these interviews lacked diversity. While that could show that the majority of students have a more progressive mindset, there could be some that disagree but do not feel welcomed voicing their opinions.
If you would like to share your thoughts on Loyola’s anti-racism initiative, feel free to share them in the comments.