Loyola grad students demand reparations for injustices

Political activists at Loyola University in Chicago turned out last week to demand higher faculty pay and protest alleged racial profiling by campus police.

The April 4 walkout coincided with the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, and was spearheaded by an activist organization known as the #NotMyLoyola Coalition as well as other groups who have remained critical of the university.

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The protesters rallied against what they perceive to be “systemic racism” on campus, and demanded increases to non-tenure track faculty pay alongside an official recognition of the grievances voiced by the newly formed Graduate Students Union.  

According to a Facebook page set up to advertise the event, 155 members said they would attend the walkout, with 111 more expressing their interest in the protest. 

“As the #NotMyLoyola Coalition, who recognize the importance of equality, accountability, and the betterment of Loyola University Chicago, we stand in solidarity with Non-Tenure Faculty and the Graduate Student Union if it is necessary for a strike to occur!” the organizers wrote.

According to another Facebook event page, bearing the title “Times Up Loyola,” 290 people intended to join the demonstration, with hundreds more stating that they are interested in the walkout. 

“Over the last decade, Loyola's tuition increased by 50%, yet non-tenure track professors received no pay increases in that period and still make just $4,000-4,500 per course with no benefits,” the event description complains, adding that “non-tenure track professors say they will strike if necessary.”

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Rebecca Parker, a graduate student at Loyola, told Campus Reform that she attended the protest to represent the Graduate Students Union and express solidarity with the non-tenure track faculty.

“I am sick of our graduate student union not being recognized,” she said. “I am sick of the non-tenure tracks’ demands not being met; I am sick of the racial tension on this campus. We deserve respect.”

Leah Levine, another Loyola student, told Campus Reform that she attended the protest because “there's a lot of non-tenure track faculty and adjunct faculty that have been here for almost a decade, some for over a decade, and have never had more than a single year contract,” lamenting that they “don't find out until May…whether or not they are going to have a job in three months.”

“I hope that the administration of Loyola hears out the faculty and hears out the students and changes their policy and tries to force better negotiations,” Levine added.

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The organizers of the “Times Up Loyola” demonstration also identified another impetus for their protest, saying, “we're concerned that Loyola University is failing its students, its mission, and our community by choosing not to address injustice on campus.”

Specifically, they claim that on February 24, “students of color were victims of racial profiling and physical assault by campus police.”

Loyola, however, issued a statement at the time insisting that campus police officials did not engage in racial profiling when confronting and questioning individuals suspected of reselling tickets to a men’s basketball game.

“The safety, security, and well-being of our students is Loyola’s top priority,” the school wrote. “We understand in our current social environment there is a heightened sensitivity to racial profiling by law enforcement. However, racial profiling is not what happened at Loyola outside Gentile last Saturday. This incident was not about race—it was about safety.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @emfrappelatte