Content warning: Sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape
Hundreds of Loyola students and community members marched through Lake Shore Campus Sept. 17, demanding Loyola take action as several online posts accusing students of sexual assault and misconduct have made their way through social media.
The group started near Sullivan Center for Student and Career Services (6339 N. Sheridan Rd.), where they faced North Sheridan Road, holding signs and cheering as passing cars honked.
Shouts of “believe survivors,” “silence is violence” and “enough is enough” echoed through the crowd.
“We are just wanting to raise awareness, provide support, provide resources to victims of sexual violence and make sure they know they are heard, they are valued and that their voices matter,” an organizer of the protest, who didn’t want to share their name, told The Phoenix.
About an hour after the 4 p.m. start time, the crowd began to make its way through campus. Hundreds of demonstrators marched in a line, passing the Information Commons and eventually making their way to Mertz Residence Hall (1125 W. Loyola Ave.).
The group gathered at the bottom of the steps, chanting “expel rapists” and “kick them out,” as onlookers watched from their windows.
Isabel Butler and Melina Lopez, both Loyola sophomores, said they came out to the protest to show support for victims of sexual violence.
“I just don’t think it’s fair for abusers and people who assault people to not have consequences, whatever those consequences may be,” Lopez, who’s studying marketing, said. “I know that there are rules and protocols that come to this but there’s obviously a problem if there’s this many people out here.”
Megan Gennusa, a Loyola first-year studying entrepreneurship, said she thought the large turnout shows solidarity within the student body in confronting sexual assault.
“It definitely makes it feel safer, like a safer environment and I think it can help a lot of victims to actually share their stories knowing that even if the school doesn’t believe them, that their classmates will,” Gennusa said.
The protests come at the culmination of a week filled with online conversations about alleged sexual misconduct involving Loyola students. An Instagram account with the goal of exposing the identities of students accused of sexual assault and misconduct has amassed over 1,500 followers since its creation Sept. 13, The Phoenix reported.
The university said it’s investigating reports of sexual misconduct.
“We are investigating reports received and, as part of the investigation process, reviewing related social media to determine if relevant information is available,” Anna Rozenich, a Loyola spokesperson, said.
Loyola’s confrontation with sexual assault on campus is part of a larger conversation taking place at universities across the country.
In the first few weeks of the fall semester, thousands of students held protests outside of the University of Iowa’s Phi Gamma Delta chapter house demanding it’s removal from campus as members of the fraternity face sexual assault allegations, The Daily Iowan reported.
At the University of Kansas, protests continue against the university administration’s handling of reported sexual assault that took place outside of the school’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, according to The University Daily Kansan.
The protest on Loyola’s campus isn’t the first time students have spoken out against the university’s sexual misconduct reporting process.
Three Loyola students accused a male student of sexually assaulting them in separate on-campus incidents, The Phoenix reported in 2019. All three filed reports with the university and the accused student was found guilty of rape — but that conclusion took months, and the women said the university allowed a “serial predator” to remain at Loyola while it conducted the investigations.
Another Loyola student went to OEC in 2019, alleging a male Loyola student had raped her — following investigation, the student she accused was expelled from the university in April of that year, The Phoenix reported. However, a month after the accused student was kicked off campus, he walked the stage at graduation.
Accusations against Loyola students weren’t the only cases where those who brought cases to the OEC expressed frustration — in 2020, a Loyola professor continued teaching on campus after a university investigation found evidence of ‘unprofessioinal and sexual harassing behavior.’
Students who wish to file a report of sexual misconduct with the university can do so through the OEC website, luc.edu/equity. If a student wants to speak to a confidential advocate — which doesn’t trigger a formal report — they can call “The Line” at 773-494-3810.
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and isn’t associated with Loyola. Their helpline can be reached at 800-656-4673.
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September 17, 2021 at 09:53PM