Loyola originally opened as St. Ignatius College in 1870, at which point it enrolled only 37 students who were taught by four faculty members. The school didn’t change its name to Loyola until 1909, and it opened its graduate school in 1926. Aside from opening the first school for nursing in Illinois in 1935, Loyola also became the first American school to officially sponsor programs in Rome when it opened the Rome Center for Liberal Arts in 1962. Today, Loyola is the largest Jesuit institution in the nation.
Loyola’s main Lake Shore Campus has many fun places to hang out and take a break from studying. The Loyola Beach is just a short walk from the center of campus. Here, students swim, tan, throw around a Frisbee or football, or just relax with friends. There is also a long pier that students can visit to take in a great view of the Chicago skyline. The beach is a great place to enjoy the few weeks of warm and sunny weather during the school year before the bitter cold hits, and safer than nearby Rogers Park. Another outdoor hangout is what Loyolans like to call ‘the Ashtray,’ a large circular structure located outside the Student Union, so named because it is a favorite spot for smokers. The Ashtray is a common meeting place for friends and organizations, and is also used by students advertising events, gathering signatures for petitions, or passing out free stuff. At night, when the weather is warm, students surround the Ashtray to socialize, smoke, talk, play games, or just wait for friends before heading out to a party.
Of course, hanging out with friends is more fun when food is involved! The Rambler Room is the most popular dining facility on the Lake Shore Campus. It features a deli, pizza bar, burger grill, Mexican grill, coffee and smoothie café, and sushi, making it is a great place to escape boring (and sometimes gross) cafeteria food. Students often eat at the Rambler Room between classes, and people can meet up with friends, do homework, and even hold group meetings in the large dining area. The Rambler Room is also open late so students can grab midnight snacks – great for the freshman 15! Located downstairs from the Rambler Room is Zip’s, a relaxing space with pool tables, a lounge area, a large TV, and a stage. At Zip’s, students can see small concerts, play games, watch movies, and eat free pizza and international foods. Of course, after all this food, Halas Sports Center is a great place to meet friends, swim, work out, take a kickboxing or hip-hop dance class, play in a ping-pong tournament, or relax in the sauna.
The most popular hangout on campus, however, is the Centennial Forum Student Union, also known as CFSU. At CFSU students can do homework, eat, or just wait for their next class. Events at CFSU often draw large crowds, and include activities like building free stuffed animals; making ornaments, cookies, or caramel apples; riding mechanical bulls on Rodeo Night; buying discount tickets to haunted houses, Blue Man Group, musicals and sporting events in Chicago; all-night luaus; free food; watching the Super Bowl; and concerts.
Ask any undergrad why she loves going to Loyola, and she’ll most likely respond with one word: Chicago. Just looking at Loyola students’ photo collections, it’s easy to see how much fun college students can have in the city. But first, let’s debunk a few common misconceptions.
Loyola University’s main campus is not surrounded by towering skyscrapers and bright city lights. The Lake Shore Campus, or LSC, is located adjacent to beautiful Lake Michigan in the northern section of the city known as Rogers Park. Though the LSC is technically within the city limits, it maintains the feel of a typical college campus, with outdoor tracks, residence halls, a library, fitness center, classrooms, and an athletic complex within easy reach.
While students at LSC can enjoy life on an enclosed college campus, on Loyola’s Water Tower Campus (WTC), a mere 20-minute drive from the LSC, undergrads have downtown Chicago at their fingertips. Undergrads living in Baumhart Hall, a state-of-the-art residence hall, are right in the middle of the bustling city.
Aside from their locations, the campuses also differ in their academic concentrations. Most undergraduate students take their classes at the LSC, but students who study business, communications, criminal justice, or journalism take many of their courses downtown, which is also home to Loyola’s law and business graduate schools. Loyola provides a shuttle service connecting both campuses, which students utilize to get to class or just to hang out downtown. While many students hardly ever commute, others travel back and forth throughout their undergraduate career.
If the lines are too long or if students miss the shuttle, they have Chicago public transportation to take them where they need to go. Transportation is definitely an integral part of a Loyola student’s experience, and everyone has at least one entertaining (and possibly horrifying) story about riding the “El,” Chicago’s rapid transit system. Loyola provides students with U-Passes, giving them access to Chicago buses and the El. With the shuttle service and U-Pass at their disposal, students find it easy to commute between campuses or to just get out and explore the city.
While Loyola offers many school-sponsored activities and events on both campuses, the university also gives students fun things to do in the city away from campus. School dances are held in fancy Chicago spots including the Drake Hotel and the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom. Loyola also offers discount tickets throughout the year for musicals, sporting events, Blue Man Group, museums, theaters, and whatever else students may be interested in. And as the biggest city in the Midwest, Chicago is a great place to find internship opportunities and to gain important networking connections.
On their own time, students take advantage of the city in other ways by watching movies in Grant Park, going to the zoo, eating at the many unique restaurants, ice skating in Millennium Park, going to bars and nightclubs, laughing at a comedy club, tanning at one of the many beaches, shopping on the Magnificent Mile, running alongside the lake, and seeing the Chicago River turn green during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
As reported by Ross Hersemann ’10:
“Because Loyola is a medium-sized school in an urban environment, one may not find as many school-wide traditions as at larger suburban or rural colleges. Loyola has no “naked mile” or freshman hazing. What Loyola does have, however, are simpler traditions on a much smaller scale.
“The local businesses around Loyola are always eager to establish their reputations with each incoming class. This has led to a great deal of local promotions aimed at snaring each new batch of potential customers. For example, a local pizzeria, Carmen’s, hosts a buffet of unlimited free pizza for any Loyola freshman. Chipotle, the fast-food Mexican eatery, followed suit by offering each incoming freshman a free burrito. Out of these promotions, a certain unofficial tradition has emerged as Loyola undergrads take advantage of the only thing that can unite college students everywhere: free food.
Another unofficial tradition for Loyola freshmen is their ‘breaking out period.’ Usually during their first weekend at college, freshmen drop everything and go party-crazy, trying to experience everything that they missed out on during the eighteen years when they lived with their parents. Upperclassmen living off-campus cater to this desire by hosting apartment keg parties with an entry fee of $5 per cup. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved: freshmen get to experience all the fun and debauchery of college life, and the upperclassmen get to pay off a month’s rent. Though this scene may seem commonplace to those who attend larger party schools, it only lasts about three weekends every fall at Loyola, making it an unofficial tradition known as Freshman Season.”
Leslie David Baker plays Stanley on NBC’s The Office.
Laverne Scott Caldwell is a Tony Award-winning actress.
Philip Caputo is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.
James Iha (attended) played guitar for the Smashing Pumpkins.
Bob Newhart (1952) is a longtime actor and comedian.
Michael R. Quinlan is the former CEO of McDonald’s Corporation.
Loyola isn’t always known for its athletic programs; however, the university does have one athletic claim to fame, as reported by Ashley Viager ’10:
“The Loyola Ramblers compete in the Horizon League, and the most popular team at Loyola is the Division I basketball squad. In 1963 the Ramblers defeated the University of Cincinnati to win the NCAA championship, making Loyola the only school in Illinois ever to have won the title. Student life at Loyola is not really centered on athletics, but basketball games are well-attended.”
The university fields several teams at the NCAA level, as well as club teams and intramural leagues.
The 1990 film Flatliners, starring Julia Roberts and Kevin Bacon, was filmed at Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus.
In the television show M*A*S*H, the character Father Mulcahy is seen wearing a Loyola sweatshirt.
Michael Scofield, the fictional protagonist of the television show Prison Break, is a graduate of Loyola.
-With special reporting by Ashley Viager ’10
Living on campus at Loyola comes with some fun and exciting experiences: floor activities, residence hall events (like throwing pies at the not-so-popular RAs), meeting tons of new people when a fire alarm goes off at 2:00 a.m., learning to do laundry with other residents, and even participating in some intense floor wars after which the losers find condoms on their doorknobs! College life just doesn’t seem complete without roommate horror stories or finding random, gross things in the communal bathrooms.
A large number of Loyola freshmen are placed in Mertz Hall, one of five freshman dorms. The nineteen-story traditional residence hall, housing 650 students, overlooks Lake Michigan and the city. From some rooms, the view is truly amazing. Each single-gender floor has air-conditioned singles and doubles and community-style bathrooms. Mertz is definitely a good choice for students who do not mind living in a dorm that knows how to have fun: ‘Mertz till it hurtz’ is the proud catchphrase of its residents, and it provides a social and communal environment where doors are usually open. Its convenient location above the Centennial Forum Student Union makes it the hub of campus activities. Mertz is also located above Lake Shore Dining Hall, one of two dining halls on campus, and the Rambler Room, a popular hangout for hungry students.
The newest freshman residence on campus, Regis Hall, is another popular choice. Somewhat resembling a hotel, Regis houses 414 students and comes with air-conditioned single and double rooms. Students especially like Regis because each room has a private bathroom (be warned: students have to clean the bathrooms themselves). Laundry facilities, spacious lounges with flat-screen TVs, and study areas are located on each floor. Across the street is Simpson Living Learning Center, a five-story freshman hall housing 409 residents. The single and double suite-style rooms have semi-private bathrooms, and each floor provides laundry facilities and study/TV lounges with kitchenettes. Unlike most freshman halls, Simpson gives students the chance to cook when they feel the need to escape repetitive cafeteria meals. Also, because laundry facilities are on every floor, Simpson residents don’t have to lug weeks’ worth of dirty clothes farther than down the hall. The ground floor includes Simpson Dining, a market, and a multipurpose room where seminars, meetings, activities, and even concerts are held. Most agree that undergrads who live in Simpson and Regis might not feel as close to their fellow residents as do those living in Mertz Hall. The floor plans of Regis and Simpson, although more aesthetically pleasing, can seem closed and empty, making it hard for people to socialize in comparison to Mertz’s community-centered floors and lounges. Regis and Simpson are quieter and more conducive to studying, and you’re more likely to find closed doors in these dorms. Mertz can be pretty rowdy, especially the men’s floors, which have been known to host weekly Man Law meetings or hours-long sessions of Halo Live.
There are also a number of residence halls for sophomores and upperclassmen to choose from. The most popular on the Lake Shore Campus is Fordham Hall, a sixteen-story high-rise apartment building housing over 350 students on coed floors. This hall is limited to juniors and seniors and features apartments for two or four students. Each unit includes its own kitchen and private bathrooms, and the east side of the building provides a beautiful view of Lake Michigan and the campus (while the lake view is stunning, be warned that if you’re not a morning person the sunrise might not make you so happy). The university mailroom and bookstore are located on the first level of Fordham Hall. The newest Loyola residence, Baumhart Hall, is located in downtown Chicago directly off Michigan Avenue, housing upperclass and graduate students. Located on the Water Tower Campus, this hall is especially popular for students in business and law. Each unit houses four students in two bedrooms and includes two bathrooms, a kitchen and living room, air conditioning, and cable/internet access. The hall also features a food court, café, chapel, fitness center, outdoor terrace, and bookstore. In short, it’s pretty much your best chance to live like a yuppie as a broke college student.