Updates on Student Recommendations in Support of Black Students
August 28, 2020
Dear Student Leaders,
Thank you for answering President Jo Ann Rooney’s call to action and positive change after the brutal murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis and for the care and compassion you have shown your fellow students. Following the horrific shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, issuing an update on the progress the University has made and our planned course of action in response to your recommendations is even more pertinent.
The Division of Student Development (DSD) affirms that Black lives matter. We acknowledge the stories that students, especially Black-identified students, have shared with us about their experiences at Loyola. We recognize the thoughtful and meaningful work that student leaders, such as yourselves, have initiated to present suggestions and recommendations. We commit to ensuring that Loyola does its part to effect meaningful change in support of Black students.
Loyola is listening and learning. We value your ideas and the dialogue you are engaging in across the University, including the Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Dean of Students, and others. We thank you for your patience and understanding as we have worked to address your requests while navigating through the pandemic and preparing for Fall Semester 2020 in this most unusual of times.
Since receiving the list of recommendations put forth in “In Support of Black Students,” members of the Loyola community, including students, administrators, faculty, and staff, have met and held several conversations through the summer and into the fall. The following is an update on the progress made by the University on the 10 recommendations:
- Review of ethics line: Executive Director for Equity and Compliance Tim Love and Associate Dean of Students Lester Manzano met with representative students on August 6 to offer clarification and updates about how reports and complaints should be submitted to the University through Maxient™ and the University’s protocol for response. They also reviewed recent data from EthicsLine and Maxient™ and collaboratively explored ways to enhance and/or expand communications to build trust and assure our students of the University’s commitment and diligence in this important area. This meeting was very productive, and we remain committed to expanding communication efforts and remaining in dialogue with students throughout the academic year.
- Investigation of racial bias incident at SDMA Zoom event on June 5: As we shared previously, this unfortunate situation was immediately and thoroughly investigated by the Office of Equity and Compliance (OEC), Campus Safety, and federal and state law enforcement. For greater context, Loyola was sadly not the only one affected by this crime during this period of time. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) saw 200 separate reports of “Zoom-bombing” throughout the country. As for the incident at Loyola, unfortunately, after exhausting all available resources at our disposal, the University was unable to identify the individual(s) responsible and the investigation was suspended. The IP addresses of the individuals associated with the incident could not be linked to any current or former Loyola student or employee; accordingly, the University’s jurisdiction and ability to initiate discipline was limited. All evidence collected was also provided to Campus Safety, who facilitated a formal report of the incident to appropriate law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. Upon investigation conclusion, a summary of the steps taken, available support resources, and information about how to protect the security of future events was distributed to all relevant administrators. The OEC and other University resources remain available to support student organizations and others who are planning to host events that may be targeted for Zoom-bombings in the future, and information about preventing such incidents has been posted to the OEC website, here.
- Financial compensation for diversity work: Loyola strives to provide its students with a transformative education. In many instances, we consider our students’ participation in various mission-oriented committees to be a part of this experience. We appreciate BCC for heightening our awareness about the emotional burden this participation potentially creates for our Black-identified students. While it is not possible to apply a university-wide policy, individual departments are encouraged to continue considering compensating students for their time, research, and work.
- Institution of Black congratulatory celebration: The DSD has identified permanent funding to support end-of-the-year congratulatory celebrations for affinity-based student organizations. Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (SDMA), with the support of Student Activities and Greek Affairs (SAGA), will develop the request for funds process and provide support to student organizations so planning efforts are successful. Guidelines and process for securing funding will be in place no later than the end of the Fall 2020 semester.
- Create an Office of Black Student Success: The DSD and Student Academic Services (SAS) areas are working to establish an office dedicated to Black Student Success. An organizational analysis and review is currently in progress, and suggestions for staffing and organizational models are currently under review by administration. We will provide an update on the status of re-organization at the October 7 meeting on the University’s Anti-Racism Initiative.
- Black Living Learning Community: Residence Life intends to provide virtual learning communities to all of our Living Learning Communities, including the new My Brother’s Keeper. They have 15 Black men currently registered for this community. Residence Life is committed to further developing an additional Living Learning Community focused on the needs of Black students enrolled at Loyola and living on campus. Given the current COVID-19 impact on campus residence halls, we do not have a definitive timetable for the expansion of this program but hope to continue further discussions.
- Zero Tolerance Policy: While we wholeheartedly agree that it is imperative that the University maintain its strong prohibition against discrimination in all its forms, “zero-tolerance policies” as applied to racism and discrimination (or other behaviors) present several practical and philosophical challenges. However, in keeping with the University’s procedures for policy revision, such a request may still be presented to appropriate administrators for consideration and administrative review. Executive Director Tim Love and Associate Dean Lester Manzano offered during the August 6 meeting to continue dialogue with representative students to better understand the needs and interests that underlie this proposal (e.g., a desire for the University to be more explicit or firm with respect to prohibiting discrimination) and to explore potential action steps that advance those goals. Additionally, we acknowledge and support the approach, as described by the Provost and others in recent campus-wide communications, of moving Loyola beyond merely prohibiting racism (which the University absolutely does under the Comprehensive Policy and Community Standards) and towards becoming actively anti-racist.
- Mandatory racial bias training: The DSD and SAS identified a training module for students focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, including racial bias. This training module, from a third-party vendor Everfi, offers other online training modules for our first-year seminar course (UNIV 101). This training has been embedded into the Fall 2020 UNIV 101 program and will soon be available for other programs (such as Greek Life) so that all students will have access.
- Wellness and mental health resources: The Wellness Center is enhancing existing mental health referral resources of community providers. Additionally, SDMA will continue to enhance its working relationship with Dr. Andrea Boyd, a Black-identified psychologist hired in January as the Counselor for Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice initiatives. SDMA is working to hold Wellness Groups for mentorship programs that include Women of Color, Men of Color, Queer & Transgender People of Color (QTPOC), Black & Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC).
- Campus Safety initiatives: Campus Safety respectfully acknowledges the recommendations put forth by BCC and our other student organizations, and they remain committed to sustaining, renewing, and creating relationships within the community they serve. Our Campus Safety team values and cares about our students and student organizations, and they recognize that you can help us identify ways where we can work together to increase understanding and constructively address racial concerns on campus.
Under the State of Illinois’ Private College Campus Police Act, Loyola’s Campus Safety police officers and staff are legally required to work directly with the locally designated law authority. In the case of our Loyola community, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) is the recognized regulatory law enforcement agency for the City of Chicago. Based on state statutes and other important considerations, it is not practical for our University to sever a professional working relationship with local law enforcement authorities. The working relationship with the CPD is vital to ensuring the year-round protection of Loyola’s students, faculty, staff, and visitors, especially with a majority of our students living off-campus in neighborhoods near the Lake Shore Campus.
In summary, we recognize that our work has only begun and is far from complete. While we have provided highlights about the topics raised in “In Support of Black Students” document, we will continue to meet with BCC leadership weekly, share additional updates as they become available, and when needed, do deeper dives on specific topics or areas of concern. As we learn together, we encourage our student leaders to share their learnings with their constituencies.
We remain committed to engaging students – as well as faculty and staff – in this process, and we deeply value your help in identifying areas where we can strengthen communication about existing policy and practice, as well as your insight into ways that we may meet student needs that were not directly expressed in this list of concerns.
Thank you again for your work and desire to build a more supportive University community for Black-identified students.
Yours in Loyola,
Vice President for Student Development
Assistant Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students