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Loyola to punish student government for protest

One of four Loyola University Chicago students accused of taking a campus demonstration too far last November has labeled the punishment “ridiculous.”

After a hearing this week, Lillian Osborne and three other students were found “not responsible” for the alleged disruptive and harassing behavior during the Nov. 20 protest inside the student dining area. The administration instead blamed the student government — of which three of the four students were a part — and promised sanctions.

“Our stance is that no one should have been charged in the first place and I’m disappointed by the university’s decision to take this unprecedented action,” Osborne said. “I’ve never heard of student government [being] tried for something.”

The demonstration in support of increased wages and health benefits for food service workers initially took place outside the Damen Student Center dining hall, but migrated inside the building.

Osborne said more students entered than had been anticipated — between 40 and 60 — but all behaved respectfully, she said.

The administration, though saying it is not opposed to student protests, had a different reaction.

The students allegedly “disrupted operations and targeted and harassed a member of the Aramark staff” and possibly violated school rules pertaining to “disruptive and disorderly conduct” and “harassment and bullying,” university spokesman Steven Christensen said in an email earlier this week.

The students faced possible probation or suspension for disruptive and disorderly conduct.

After a 4 1/2-hour disciplinary hearing Monday, the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution decided not to punish the individual students. Instead, the Student Government of Loyola Chicago, according to a statement from the office: “has been found responsible for disruption. The organization will receive educational and developmental sanctions to help strengthen their internal processes and procedures, but they will not be placed on probation of any kind. SGLC now has three days to submit an appeal, which would be reviewed and considered by the Dean of Students. The specifics of the hearing and outcomes regarding the resolution are not made public to ensure our students’ privacy.”

Osborne, who has since resigned from student government, said she’s not sure of her next move.

“I can’t say for the whole group because it’s not just me planning these things,” said Osborne, who is studying political science, history and Spanish and is an editorial assistant for the socialist quarterly, Jacobin. “We will demonstrate when it’s necessary and when we believe it’s for the right cause.”

Student government leaders later issued a statement saying they don’t plan to appeal the ruling: “As an organization committed to amplifying student voices, and most importantly, an organization that is deeply honored to serve the Loyola community, we understand the consequences and concerns resulting from this decision. We are moving forward.”

That statement also noted that, with regard to the demonstration, “the delegation that entered the dining hall was neither discussed nor agreed upon. … Accordingly, our own judicial board responded recommendations to address ways in which we could improve our internal communication …”