On Tuesday December 8th the Temple Board of Trustees held a public meeting. The Board of Trustees have four meetings during the school year where students and community members are invited to participate and voice their concerns. In this meeting the board intended to vote on the plan to build a new 40,000 seat stadium in the heart of North Philadelphia.
This meeting was a PUBLIC meeting. But anyone who was there yesterday knows that it was not public. Students, members of the community, alumni, and faculty were not allowed into the meeting.
Members of the North Philadelphia community, Temple students, faculty, and alumni gathered outside of Sullivan Hall before the meeting to rally against the stadium. At 3:30 pm, the official start time of the public meeting, the students and community members attempted to enter the building. We were met with rows of police with nightsticks blocking all of the entrances into Sullivan Hall. When we attempted to walk in, we were shoved back, and told we were not allowed into the meeting.
We explained that we were members of the North Philadelphia community, tuition paying students, alumni, and faculty and we had a right to go into the public meeting where choices were being made that greatly affect our futures. While we watched white men in business suits and student government being escorted into the building, students, members of the community, faculty, and alumni who are opposed to the stadium were met with violence.
This is a moral outrage. Temple University plans to build a 40,000 seat stadium in the heart of historically Black North Philadelphia, and they refuse to hear the voices of community members or students. They allow corrupt student government, white businessmen, and wealthy donors a seat at the table while they attempt to keep students in the dark and displace an entire community.
Inside the meeting, President Theobald spoke about Temple’s commitment to North Philadelphia. However, during pauses in his speech you could hear students and community members outside chanting, “up with community, down with the stadium.” Student government president Ryan Rinaldi said that the students are proud of their football team and university, all while students and community members were stuck outside chanting, “let us in!”
Temple University showed its true colors yesterday. The Board of Trustees is a corrupt body governed by Patrick O’Connor, the same lawyer who defended Bill Cosby in the case of sexual assault against a Temple employee. President Theobald has refused to meet with students and community members, and has no respect for the Black community he has entered. Temple Student Government President Ryan Rinaldi has shown he does not represent the students, will not defend students when treated unfairly, and certainly has no respect for the North Philadelphia community.
These shameful leaders are not interested in serving the students or faculty and are responsible for terrorizing and disrespecting surrounding North Philadelphia communities. They do not represent the needs of community members, and they do not seek to educate students. They seek to build a stadium despite disagreement from students, employees, and community members. They seek to maintain a Board of Trustees made up almost exclusively of white men speaking for corporations and keep the voices of students and community members silent.
Yesterday was a shameful display of what Temple University has become. A university that values the voices of rich white men over the voices of students and community members. A university that chooses football and profit over education and living wages. A university that will use its police force to attack students who try to enter public buildings and public meetings. The only way to describe Temple University today is shameful, corrupt, immoral, and an embodiment of the white-supremacist terror that has harmed students and residents for decades.
As students, faculty, and alumni it is our responsibility to uphold Temple’s founding principle: to serve the people of North Philadelphia. It is our responsibility to hold ‘rape defender’ Patrick O’Connor accountable. We must hold gentrifier Neil Theobald accountable. It is our responsibility to listen to the community in North Philadelphia and stand with them to say NO to the stadium, NO to gentrification, and NO to poverty.
Here is our pledge to the community of North Philadelphia, students, workers, and faculty at Temple University:
We will not let our voices be silenced, we will fight this university until they have no choice but to hear the community and the students.
We demand that Patrick O’Connor and Neil Theobald respect students and community members and act in the interest of the people and not in the interest of profits. If they fail to do this, they must resign.
We will continue organizing on campus and in North Philadelphia to build student, worker, and community power. We will stand with the community always. We will continue to fight against gentrification, against the stadium, and against poverty. We will continue to push for a $15/hr minimum wage for all Temple workers including students and subcontracted workers.
Board of Trustees, President Theobald, we will be back. And next time, we will do whatever it takes.
Up with Community Down with the Stadium
Up with Workers Down with the Stadium
Up with Students Down with the Stadium
15 Now of Temple University