Loyola students brave long lines to see Dalai Lama

By Rianne Coale

Three long lines consisting of Loyola University Chicago students, faculty, and others stood patiently outside Thursday morning, waiting for their chance to hear His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama give a speech at 1:30 p.m. that same day in Loyola’s Gentile Arena.

People started lining up at the three entrances located around the Gentile Arena at roughly 11 a.m. Thursday. Although a majority of the people were lined up in front of the main door of the Norville Center, many others were in the lines waiting at the back entrance of the Norville Center and the main entrance of the Gentile Center located near the Centennial Forum Student Union on campus.

By 12:45 p.m., more than 1,000 people were waiting, and the guests were filed in a single line starting from the Norville Center, wrapping around the front of Cudahy Science Hall, the Information Commons, the side of the Cudahy Library, and reaching almost to the sidewalk directly parallel to the lake front.

“I think it’s necessary to have us line up this early for the event,” said Katya Iwanik, 20, a junior psychology major. “He’s such a big influential figure internationally that I wouldn’t expect any shorter of a line.”

Barricades were set up all over campus for security reasons, forcing students who were not waiting in line to find a different route to many of their classes. Many students said that their professors had cancelled class or let out early for the Dalai Lama occasion.

“I had three of my classes cancelled today,” said Jeremy Natery, 19, a sophomore English major. “My professors are all going to see the Dalai Lama speak, so I didn’t have to feel bad about skipping class to come stand in line.”

More than 20 parking attendants and security officers were scattered around campus helping direct traffic to the parking garages, making sure that no one was jumping the barricades and maintaining a safe environment before and during the event.

“It went smoothly from beginning to end, and everyone was patient, polite, and cooperative,” said Nick Herscha, the director of parking in front of Quinlan and an engineer for facilities around campus. “You could only get into the parking garage on campus with a Loyola ID, and we directed everyone else to other parking garages nearby.”

The weather was overcast, windy and cold which deterred many students from standing in the walk-in line that had begun to form right after 11:30 a.m. Many Loyola students standing in line who had paid for their tickets were not too happy about the walk-ins who potentially could get a ticket for free.

“I don’t like the concept of the walk-in line at all,” said Jeremiah Johnson, 19, a sophomore biology major. “I was disgusted to hear that Sister Jean was having to wait in line for a ticket behind other students, when she should have got her ticket for free in the first place.”

Although many students did not think it was fair that some students would not have to pay for a ticket due to ticket holders not showing up, the Loyola students willing to wait in the walk-in line were excited to potentially get a chance to see the Dalai Lama.

“I’m going to be excited if I get in,” said Molly Mattaini, 20, a sophomore theatre major. “I’m sure if I paid a lot for a ticket, I’d be a little mad at the people in the walk-in line, but there is no reason for the Dalai Lama to talk to an empty seat.”

At 1:15 p.m. just 15 minutes before the Dalai Lama was scheduled to speak, the long lines finally started picking up pace and getting filed into the Gentile Arena. Security officials realized that if they didn’t move faster, they wouldn’t be able to get everyone in on time.

Although there were no protest outbreaks during the wait time before the event, there was a man on Sheridan Road near the north entrance of campus that had a sign put up that said, “A Free Tibet” and he had T-shirts and sweatshirts laid out for people to buy. The man had no comments.

Once all the Loyola ticket holders were in the building, they began giving the extra tickets to the students waiting in the walk-in line. With 60 students left in line after all the tickets were given out, it looked as if they were going to miss their chance to see the Dalai Lama speak. In the good nature of the event though, everyone left waiting in line was able to go inside before the speech started.

Two Loyola students, Kenneth Stromdahr, 20, a sophomore political science major and his sister, Kathryn Stromdahr, 21, a junior molecular biology major, joked around as they were huddling to stay warm near the end of the line.

“This is the most school spirit you’ll ever see here at Loyola, and it’s for a good reason,”  Stromdahr said. “It’s the freaking Dalai Lama, he’s so amazing that they stopped construction on campus for the first day in four years!”


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