Today, students from all across the country have gathered to fight for what they believe in, for something tangible, fair, and within our grasp. We are here to demand that the student and worker stakeholders in this university have a say in how our school’s business is conducted. We will no longer stay silent and watch our futures get sold out for corporate interest. No longer shall we stand idly by while our voices are dismissed and ignored. Our voices matter, our influence matters. We have power, we no longer can be held under the bounds of student debt, low wages, and program cuts. We will not carry this weight any longer, and today we say enough.
To Temple University, President Theobald, Patrick O’Connor, and the University Board of Trustees: we will not allow you to sell out our futures–we have voices, and we will not be ignored. Without fail, the administration of this university implements policy without consideration for the welfare of its students, faculty, or the community it is privileged to be a part of. We cannot accept the contempt and disrespect with which the higher education system treats its students, professors, and workers, all of whom are vital to its very existence. It should not be common practice for students, workers, and community members to be completely shut out of decisions that affect us all. We will no longer struggle to bear the burden of thousands of dollars imposed upon us by the corporate model of higher education. No longer shall the stability, health, and safety of students, workers, and community members be jeopardized for the bottom line.
Temple University was founded on the principle that the working class people of North Philadelphia deserve affordable access to higher education. In this regard, Temple belongs to the working people of Philadelphia–specifically the community members of North Philadelphia–and to its students, who are trying to receive an education in order to better themselves and their futures.
Under these guiding principles, Temple should not function as a corporation, with presidents and chairpersons as CEO’s. Temple is a public university, and therefore the public has a right to a voice in decisions that affect all aspects of the community. If the salaries of high-ranking officials at the university are to be funded by taxpayers, these officials must then be held accountable to represent the public. Instead, President Theobald and the Board of Trustees have repeatedly refused to engage with the true stakeholders in the community and within the university, refusing even to meet with students to address our concerns.
Temple, despite having millions of dollars for football stadiums, luxury penthouses, and bloated salaries for a few, refuses to pay its employees a living wage. Temple University remains unwilling to pay student workers more than poverty wages. Temple pays its highly-qualified and well-educated adjuncts poverty wages, and continues to suppress their efforts to unionize. At the same time, President Theobald is paid over $400,000 a year to ignore the concerns of the community and the student body.
Temple University has a crisis of priorities, driven by the greed of President Theobald and the Board of Trustees. As long as the administration of Temple University operates in service of corporate profit, Temple University cannot fulfill the dream or vision of Russell Conwell. It is not serving the community of North Philadelphia. It is not fulfilling its obligation to the student body or to its employees.
Russell Conwell’s mission was to uplift the the North Philadelphia community and to provide an opportunity for all people to better themselves. But under this current model of education, and under this current administration, his words sound ironic; to quote from “Acres of Diamonds,” “Many of us spend our lives searching for success when it is usually so close that we can reach out and touch it.”
Nationally, the Million Student March is demanding:
- Tuition-free public college
- Cancellation of all student debt
- A $15 minimum wage for all campus workers
In addition, we demand that Temple University:
- Respect the rights of Adjunct professors and all other workers to unionize.
- Create a sexual assault and sexual violence crisis center on campus in accordance with the recommendations from the Title IX federal investigation.
- Cease all university investments from companies and corporations that are complicit in or benefit from Israel’s illegal military Occupation of Palestine and to support the rights of freedom of speech and association in endeavors supporting the liberation of the Palestinian people and criticizing U.S. foreign policy.
- Stop the assault on liberal arts programs and its faculty, and rebuild liberal arts with the integrity of academic freedom and full funding, including the reinstatement of Dr. Anthony Monteiro, an African American studies professor who was unjustly dismissed because of his dissident views.
- Expand free college-prep programs that provide a pathway to higher education for North Philadelphia youth. Implement policies designed to attract and increase the number of people in North Philadelphia able to attend the university, as opposed to attempting to attract students from outside the city and state.
- Invest in community relations and public access to university resources for the Black and Latino residents of North Philadelphia, and address the concerns and demands of the community on Temple’s gentrification and displacement of North Philadelphia residents and its expansion of the university police force in the community.
- Cease all ties with Patrick O’Connor, and press for his immediate resignation from the Board of Trustees. If President Theobald does not immediately begin to engage with students, employees, and the community or is unwilling to do so then he as well must resign from his position. Temple needs to institute a plan for democratic control of the University, which must involve the abolishment of the Board of Trustees and the election of a committee made up of democratically elected representatives of the student body, faculty, workers, and community of North Philadelphia.
15 Now of Temple University
Philadelphia Socialist Alternative
Temple Students for Justice in Palestine
Temple Degrees Not Debt
Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee- PHL
Temple Area Feminist Collective
Temple FMLA (Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance)
SAFE (Student Activists for Female Empowerment)