In the midst of ongoing demonstrations and unrest in response to circumstances surrounding the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Loyola University Maryland students and staff gathered on the Quad Wednesday afternoon to share the reasons they love the city of Baltimore.
Students, staff, and administrators were invited by the office of student engagement and Campus Ministry to write why they love Baltimore on a whiteboard, pose for a photo, and share on social media using the #OneBaltimore hashtag. As students came together to express the positive aspects of the city they live in, they were encouraged to enjoy a Baltimore staple: the Berger cookie.
“Over the last few days, the perception of Baltimore, nationally and even here in the city, has been really negative. We have such a strong, beautiful, and wonderful city. Our students and community know it. Today, we just want to show support for the city that we, as Loyola, are a part of and that we love,” Geoff Norbert, director of student engagement, said.
For New Jersey native Lisa-Ann Limongello, ’18, Baltimore is a friendly place with friendly faces.
“Loyola is a good representation of how Baltimore is an open community. Loyola and Baltimore are very friendly places, and you can’t walk down the street without seeing someone smiling,” said Limongello, a political science and global studies major.
The large crowd gathered around the Quad shared and bonded over their love for Baltimore’s history, hospitality, and sense of community.
“I love Baltimore because we never give up—regardless if it was during the Revolutionary War or now. During whatever time period we’ve faced crisis, Baltimore has never given up. We always make it through,” said Matthew Gillen, ’18.
The on-campus gathering is part of many activities in which students are participating around the community. On Tuesday, students and Loyola’s York Road Initiative led a peaceful rally on York Road, holding signs that read “One Baltimore, One Home” and “We love our community.” The York Road Initiative also helped clean up areas of the northern corridor that had been impacted by the unrest.
“As challenging as this situation is, I find myself reflecting on how grateful I am to be at Loyola University Maryland right now. Especially because we are a Jesuit, Catholic university, this situation offers an opportunity for us to reflect on how each of us is called to work toward social justice, to give voice to the voiceless, and to be open to building community and finding common ground,” Loyola’s president, Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., said in a letter to the Loyola community earlier this week.
Most students and staff said they love Baltimore because it’s home.
“I’ve lived in Baltimore for 20 years now. I call this my home. I know that Baltimore has a lot of work to do, and one day we will see just how much we have to accomplish—but I know that we can do it. In Baltimore, there are a lot of neighborhoods that are divided. But I believe that that’s coming to an end, where we start to break the economic and social barriers of these neighborhoods,” Leah Hill, a sophomore biology and political science major, said.
The event will be held again on Thursday and Friday from noon to 2 p.m. on the Quad.
Also on Friday, Loyola will host a community gathering on the Quad from 6:30 - 8 p.m. The event, "Thinking about Baltimore: We Are All Affected," is student-led and organized in collaboration with ALANA Services, academic affairs, Center for Community Service and Justice, Campus Ministry, Counseling Center, and the office of student life.