While to us it seems like the center of the universe, LMU is not a highly recognizable or well-known school — particularly outside of California. Yet, just weeks ago, it was the center of one of the most contentious Democratic primary debates in history.
When it was announced that LMU would host the sixth Democratic National Committee (DNC) presidential debate, students were beyond excited. Those elsewhere in the country, however, may have been left thinking, “What is LMU?”
After the resolution of the Sodexo labor dispute, LMU showed the world its values and became a representative of democracy around the country.
On name recognition alone, our little Jesuit school exploded in popularity. Google Trends shows that on the days surrounding the debate, LMU’s popularity as a search term reached its highest point in 2019 and was showing above average internet traffic. Major outlets like The Washington Post and The New York Times were reporting on us, and our new logos were on the debate stage itself. Our logo was even on “Saturday Night Live’s” cold open that week.
Despite all this, some students were embarrassed by our school when the news broke that none of the candidates would appear on the debate stage if Sodexo’s labor dispute with Unite Here Local 11 was not resolved. Instagram was full of students condemning LMU and stating that they were ashamed to be associated with the school and showing shame at being associated with LMU.
While it is important to note that LMU was not directly involved in the labor dispute, union leaders and local leaders thanked LMU for helping resolve the dispute and reinstate the debate. State Senator for Central and East Los Angeles Maria Elena Durazo said, “My appreciation to Loyola Marymount University for making their values—their core values—the most important priority in this process of negotiations."
DNC Chairman Tom Perez added onto this, saying, “[LMU’s] commitment was to living those Ignatian values … they were an indispensable part of the solution.”
LMU is often condemned by students for using Sodexo—and that is a fair argument—but no issue is black-and-white; the University showed the nation what it means to stick to Jesuit values in the face of difficulty.
President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D. wrote an op-ed in The Hill where he discussed the controversy leading up to the debate. “[Sodexo and union leaders] exhibited the virtues LMU prizes but our society too often lacks — listening patiently, honoring differences, and working together to find common ground,” he wrote.
As the world watched the drama around the debate unfold, LMU stuck to its values and ensured that the vital event went on smoothly.
“Together, we hold the responsibility for our human future,” Snyder wrote, “even if that includes being a part of the controversy every now and then.”