Above Photo: Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune. Student organizers form a circle and hug a speaker at Loyola University after she spoke during a rally Nov. 12, 2015 on campus. The rally was in support of student protests and actions at the University of Missouri.
Three Loyola University students who organized an unsanctioned protest in solidarity with a University of Missouri group last month could be reprimanded for violating the Chicago university’s demonstration policy, according to a student group and a university spokesman.
The students — Dominick Hall, Ryan Sorrell and Julian Marshall — identified themselves as organizers of a Nov. 12 protest focusing on campus inclusion for minority students held on Loyola‘s campus, and were contacted by leaders from the Division of Student Development the following week regarding their decision to not register the demonstration, according to university spokesman Steve Christensen.
Loyola, a private university, requires students to obtain approval before holding a demonstration anywhere on campus other than the Damen North Lawn. They must request approval through the Office of the Dean of Students three business days before the demonstration.
Hall said in a statement that the policy prevents student groups from organizing “in a timely and effective manner in response to situations as they happen.”
“Loyola strives to be a ‘marketplace of ideas,’ but uses policies such as the demonstration policy … to systematically silence student voices,” the statement said.
Since the protest, the students have been called in for multiple hearings with the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution over violating university regulation, the student group said.
“The university expects that all policies and elements of the ‘Community Standards’ are adhered to, and in this case the organizers elected to intentionally violate those standards,” Christensen said in an email. “At present, the matter is considered an ongoing case and is being coordinated by the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.”
The students, including Hall and Sorrell, who are on probation for unrelated incidents and could face suspension, are expected to attend another hearing Friday afternoon, then university officials are expected to render a decision within five days, Sorrell said.
“Last year, the university set a precedent, saying anyone who marketed a demonstration was considered responsible,” Sorrell said. “However, this year we organized it, but we had faculty, staff who posted it on social media, the university put it on their website, professors canceled classes, so I thought that was really hypocritical.”
Adding to the confusion, interim President John Pelissero wrote an open letter the same day of the protest to say he was “proud of our community’s response and the commitment to addressing issues of justice.” In the days following the protest, several other university officials met with students to discuss possible solutions, including the meeting when the three students acknowledged they organized the Nov. 12 protest, Sorrell said.
“During the meeting, they told us they were not looking to hold anyone responsible, so the three of us went ahead and told them we organized it,” he said. “I don’t understand — if they were going to do this — why they supported us.”
Pelissero is expected to continue talking about those issues with students Friday, Christensen said.
“In the weeks following the demonstration, university leaders representing Student Development, Office of the Provost, and Human Resources met with a group of students multiple times to respond to their concerns and advance the campus conversation,” Christensen said.
The student conduct hearings planned for Friday will not be open to the public, Christensen said.