15 Now Temple Statement on Today’s Closed Stadium Meeting

Temple Student Government announced they would be holding an informational session concerning Temple’s plan to build a 40,000 seat stadium in the heart of residential North Philadelphia. The meeting is “for students only,” meaning community residents, alumni, faculty, and service workers are banned from the event where Temple President Neil Theobald and the Athletic Director Pat Kraft will answer pre-screened questions about the stadium construction and funding.

This closed meeting is a shameful attempt to silence the community that stands united in their opposition to Temple’s continued gentrification and expansion in North Philadelphia. Temple University does not see a Black community in North Philadelphia, they see opportunities for naked land-grabbing to fuel for-profit expansion.

15 Now Temple and 15 Now Philadelphia and the Stadium Stompers, the newly-formed community organization against the stadium, stand united against the stadium construction. We condemn Temple Student Government President Ryan Rinaldi, Temple President Neil Theobald, and Temple Athletic Director Pat Kraft for attempting to keep information from the community, keep them out of informational sessions, and make them invisible to the student body.

We will not be silent, we will stand together. Up with the community, down with the stadium.

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Penn #MillionStudentMarch Coalition Releases Demands before March: $15, Free College, and PILOT payments

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Dear Penn administrators, trustees and policymakers

We, students and alumni of your university, have assembled today as the #MillionStudentMarch to call upon you to address a moral crisis. American higher education is being commodified on an intolerable scale. Soaring tuition and student debt levels (over $1 trillion nationwide) are reinforcing financial inequalities of access to higher learning. Unlivable wages offered to student workers and adjunct professors are driving poor and working class students out of academia while campus workers struggle to afford to send their children to the universities their labor sustains. Urban private universities are becoming “mega-nonprofits” while the cities they reside in see their budgets starved and public education subject to a crippling austerity, and predominantly working-class and non-white community residents are displaced by the gentrification wrought by expansion, construction and an influx of affluent, transient student-residents. We believe that these issues are as relevant and serious at Penn as at other universities rallying today across the country, and this is why we are making the following 3 demands: for the Board of Trustees to form a committee to immediately and transparently work to reduce our university’s exorbitant tuition rates, reduce debt burdens and extend financial aid to your students, especially poor students and students of color; to enact a truly livable $15 minimum wage across campus; and to pay PILOTs to the City of Philadelphia to fund our city’s ailing K-12 public schools.

Form a committee to investigate and address tuition and student debt

It is no secret that tuition and fees at the University of Pennsylvania are sky-high. This year, Penn raised tuition from $42,176 to $43,838; room and board increased from $13,464 to $13,990; and fees increased from $5,492 to $5,698. The cost of attending Penn for one year is greater the median annual income in the United States. Penn defends its astronomical tuition and fees rates by saying that only affluent students who can afford to pay will pay full tuition; most students are on some form of financial aid. Penn proudly touts its “no-loan policy”, promising to meets its students’ financial needs so that they do not need to take out loans.

If Penn were truly a “no-loan” school, this would indeed be something to be proud of. It would be true civic leadership. But we know that this is not the case. We know because many among us are taking out tens of thousands in student loans in order to graduate, including many of us who receive financial aid. At the beginning of this year, the federal Department of Education published its “College Scorecard” which assesses affordability and other factors at colleges around the country. According to this report, the average Penn student has $20,407 in debt at the time they begin making repayments on loans: the highest of any Ivy League school. Furthermore, according to the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), Penn students take out loans at a rate of 36%, the third-highest in the Ivy League. Even the statistics SFS prefers to cite from TICAS put Penn students’ average debt at $19,788, near the top of the Ivy League. Much of this debt is held my students who are receiving at least partial financial aid, and it includes many working-class students, students of color and undocumented students. These realities suggest a hollowness to Penn’s claims to be doing enough to ensure equity and access for its financially disadvantaged students. This is why we call for fiscal redistribution to reduce the financial burdens of the student body and especially its most disadvantaged members.

Enact a $15 minimum wage across campus

Furthermore, although Penn touts its status as the city’s largest private employer as an example of its “civic leadership”, the reality is that many of these campus workers—dining hall staff, adjunct professors, janitorial staff—are paid wages that do not hold up against the rising cost of living in the area. For many of these workers, Penn’s economic “boom” means higher rents and neighborhood displacement due to gentrification. It is the many of the same workers who make Penn run whose children must attend Philadelphia’s understaffed and precarious public schools. Meanwhile, economically disadvantaged or precarious student workers do not earn enough from their on-campus jobs to realistically support themselves, and many take strenuous off-campus jobs that inhibit their freedom to participate on campus. This is why we call for Penn to enact a campus-wide $15 minimum wage.

We as students stand in solidarity with campus workers and with all residents of the West Philadelphia community. Many of us assembled here today are only transient residents of the Philadelphia community. We wish to make clear that we do not call for reduction in tuition fees so that affluent, predominantly white families can send their children to Penn for free while the community residents are displaced by gentrification. We call for a reduction in tuition fees, student debt, and livable wages for campus and student workers so that members of the Philadelphia community, those whose labor makes Penn possible, can afford to send their children here. We call for greater affordability because it is above all working-class and students of color who are being driven out of education by financial inaccessibility today.

PILOTs

For the same reason, we also stand in solidarity with the Student Labor Action Project at Penn and students at Philadelphia’s K-12 public schools who are seeing their schools closed in the dozens under fiscal austerity, by calling for Penn to pay PILOTs in the amount of $6 million a year to support the public schools. Penn has a responsibility to its surrounding community to contribute to the solution of this problem at its root, which is the budgetary crisis imposed by statewide fiscal austerity. While Penn often cites the Penn-Alexander School, the Netter Center and existing financial aid to local students as proof that it is already “giving back enough”, the reality is that Penn’s efforts at “giving back” only benefit a small minority of the overall Philadelphia community who are lucky enough to benefit from the institutions Penn sustains. Most Philadelphia public students still study in schools that are understaffed, overworked and precarious in their existence, while Penn sits on an endowment of almost $10 billion. This is why we agree with SLAP that Penn must reinvest in the community through PILOTs: to show a commitment to working with the City to address the fiscal crisis directly, not merely put a band-aid on it by providing a limited set of services.

Finally, we as students seek a greater democratic say in the running of our institution. Lacking veto power over our administration, as students we lack any kind of enforceable, democratic say in how our university’s massive endowment is invested. We believe that decisions about the financial governance of this institution must be addressed in an accountable, transparent way that consults the will and interests of the student body, campus workers, and the broader community, not just a small board of financial stakeholders.

In the next few weeks, progressive student organizations will be convening a Student Assembly to discuss the issues we have aimed to bring your attention to, and to coordinate further work. The Student Assembly will seek further engagement and contact with the university administration on the issues we have outlined. SLAP @ Penn will remain the principal contact with the administration for the campaign for Penn to pay Payments in Lieu of Taxes to the City of Philadelphia.

Sincerely,
UPenn #MillionStudentMovement

TEMPLE #MILLIONSTUDENTMARCH COALITION UNVEILS 10 DEMANDS AS THEY PREPARE TO MARCH

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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:

  1. Tuition-free public college
  2. Cancellation of all student debt
  3. 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.

Signed,

15 Now of Temple University

Philadelphia Socialist Alternative

Temple Socialists

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)

Open Appeal to Councilman Bill Greenlee on $15 Ballot Question

It’s time to let Philly vote on on a $15 minimum wage.

We are in an unprecedented moment in working class struggle. There is real political momentum behind a doubling of the minimum-wage, not just in Philadelphia but across Pennsylvania. 15 Now, Fight For 15, Raise the Wage PA, POWER, too many unions and progressive organizations to name, and your colleagues in CIty Council, are working hard to win an increase in the minimum wage. PA State Senator Daylin Leach is introducing an aggressive bill for $15 an hour in Harrisburg. 5 out of 6 Philadelphia Mayoral candidates support raising the minimum wage to $15/hour.

A strong vote for $15 on the November ballot from Philadelphia will send a clear message to Harrisburg (and Washington DC) that the time has come for a long overdue raise.

All indicators of public opinion–from last November’s general election results, to local and national polls–show broad public support for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. A recent survey of Democratic Philadelphia voters found 87% of Philadelphians support a $15 minimum wage for all workers. Nationally, respected polls have shown 63% of our nation supports $15.

15 Now Philly members have been working tirelessly to find a way to win $15 in Philly. An army of dedicated volunteers met with City Council members and traveled to Harrisburg to talk to state representatives. We testified during Council Hearings, and spend thousands of hours canvassing talking to thousands of Philadelphians who need a raise. We filled the streets in massive numbers. And we diligently consulted economic, legal and political experts to find a way around Harrisburg’s ban on raising the minimum wage, even when we were told it was impossible.

Now, as we fight our way forward in the best way we know how, you have chosen to block us from introducing the ballot initiative.

We understand you are making what you see as principled arguments against putting a charter change to support 15 on the ballot. We know you don’t like charter changes, but our political choices are few.

It’s obvious there are more legal and political limitations on Philadelphia than on Seattle, San Francisco or Oakland. But we live in the poorest big city in the country, and there is a staggeringly large population of Black and Brown workers living in poverty. We can’t afford to wait.

Our city’s residents are already doing whatever it takes to get a raise for Philly workers. 7,000 church members and union members marched for $15 in MLK Day. Hundreds of Philadelphia’s fast food workers walked off the job for $15 and a union over the last year and a half. We are imploring you to do your job as our elected representative and put $15 on the ballot.

It is no longer enough to simply voice objections on process. Inaction by City Council is not acceptable to the working class families of this city. If you support raising the minimum wage to 15 an hour, and you don’t like our charter change, then you need to put forward a clear second option.

Are you willing to introduce binding legislation to raise the wage to 15 in Philly right now? If the answer is no, then clear the way for a ballot question, so you and your colleagues have political momentum on your side when we ask you to challenge Harrisburg.

Councilman Greenlee, we ask you to seriously consider your actions and the needs of your constituents. Today, after 5 years of hard work, Paid Sick Leave is finally on the books in Philly. You have worked hard to push many progressive issues through city council over the years. Yet despite this, and the work of your colleagues, Harrisburg still takes our taxes, runs our schools, profits from our parking tickets, and is even threatening to overturn Paid Sick Leave at the last minute.

Harrisburg will stop at nothing to take away our rights. And the time is now to show them we won’t stand for it anymore. No significant gains have ever been made for the working class by obeying the rules written by our oppressors. So, stand with us and continue the fight for $15.

Philadelphia wants to vote on $15 an hour. We we want to challenge Harrisburg’s undemocratic ban on raising the minimum wage. We are willing to do whatever it takes, and we ask you and all of City Council to do the same.

Let our city vote on a $15 minimum wage in November.

Ahead of Mayoral Debate, 15 Now Philly Stages Guerilla Projection for $15 Minimum Wage

Philadelphia, PA — Tonight, Philly’s Democratic mayoral candidates will debate at the Temple Center for Performing Arts in North Philly. Much of their conversation will center on the economic future of the city. Ahead of the debate, $15 minimum wage activists staged a artistic direct action at the debate’s venue.

With the help of projection artist Dan Zink, members of 15 Now Philly projected facts about Philadelphia’s poverty rates and questions for mayoral candidates directly on to the debate venue’s facade.

North Philly neighbors and Temple students passing by pointed at the projection art and stopped to chat with 15 Now and the artists. Many signed petitions and committed to sending a tweet to candidates before the debate tonight.

“I’ll probably go and see what candidates are saying so I know who to vote for. Politicians should try living off $7.25 an hour and it would be clear to them why we need the $15 minimum wage,” said a low wage worker passing by.

Democratic candidates Jim F. Kenney, Anthony Hardy Williams and Nelson Diaz have announced they support a $15 minimum wage in Philly, but have not yet put forward plans to circumvent the state’s illegitimate municipal ban.

15 Now member and Temple senior Pele Irgangladen said, “Philadelphians want to know, are the mayoral candidates willing to commit to $15 minimum wage– not just in rhetoric, but guarantee they’ll fight alongside us to do whatever it takes to exercise our right to implement our own minimum wage.”

15 Now Philly is pushing a ballot referendum in November to demonstrate overwhelming local support for a $15 minimum wage. The ballot initiative is designed to push lawmakers to legislate a direct challenge to Harrisburg’s illegitimate ban on municipal wage raises.

PA State Senator Daylin Leach has also proposed an aggressive bill that will immediately raise the minimum wage statewide and eliminate the tipped minimum wage and rallied with 15 Now Philly last Friday.

“I do think [candidate’s positions on the $15 wage] will influence how people vote,” said Temple freshman and art student Gillian Mead.

On May Day, Local & Statewide Movement on $15 Minimum Wage

On May 1st, fast food and other low wage workers will announce their intention to place a home rule charter amendment question on the ballot in November that presents an opportunity for the residents of Philadelphia to vote in support of a $15 minimum wage.

Mayoral polls done by municipal union, AFSCME have already indicated support for a $15 minimum wage in Philly to be as high as 87% among likely voters.

A popular referendum on $15 an hour in November will put pressure on the state legislators to raise the minimum wage across the state to $15 an hour, to lift the undemocratic ban on municipal wage increases, and set the stage for city council to institute bold measures to challenge the ban if no action is taken on a statewide level.

Additionally, State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today announced legislation to raise the state minimum wage immediately to $15 per hour. The bill would also index the minimum wage to inflation and eliminate the tipped minimum wage. He and 15 Now are seeking co-sponsors in the PA Assembly and Senate for the $15 bill.

Said 15 Now member Sarah Giskin, “15 Now PA is heartened to see that Pennsylvania state representatives are turning the urgent demand for a $15/hour into action. 15 Now chapters across the state will be pushing hard for Senator Leach’s bill. We are prepared, however, to fight for the removal of the undemocratic ban on Philadelphia raising its own minimum wage if the legislature does not pass a statewide $15/hour bill. We will do whatever it takes to end poverty in our city, starting with putting a $15 minimum wage referendum on the November ballot in Philadelphia.

In 2015, the #fightfor15 and #blacklivesmatter movements have set a tone of mass struggle to achieve dramatically improved working and living conditions, especially for people of color who are over-represented in low wage work. Philadelphia is the poorest major city in the country, and 28% of residents live under the federal poverty line.

On International Workers’ Day, Philadelphia workers will uphold the holiday’s bold history of struggle, by demanding a minimum wage of $15 an hour in the city of Philadelphia and across the state of Pennsylvania. May Day is rooted in the struggle for the 8 hour day, when hundreds of thousands of workers across the nation staged a general strike to win a shorter work day and higher wages.

PA State Senator Leach Proposes $15 Min Wage Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2015

HARRISBURG – State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today announced legislation to raise the state minimum wage to $15 per hour. The bill would also index the minimum wage to inflation and eliminate the tipped minimum wage.

Leach explained his proposal to his Senate colleagues in a co-sponsorship memo, attached to the announcement today.

Leach’s statement on his new proposal:

“An economy that forces full-time workers to toil in poverty is clearly in need of repair. While corporations shower their executives with extravagant bonuses, lavish benefits and golden parachutes, they force their own employees to supplement meager wages with government assistance programs, all at the taxpayers’ expense. It’s time for employers to pay their fair share and for workers to get a fair shake.”

Leach will speak about his new bill at a rally for advocates of a $15 minimum wage on Friday, May 1, 2015 in Philadelphia. Details are below.

WHEN:
May 1st, 2015 at 2:00pm

WHERE:
McDonald’s at 3935 Walnut St, Philadelphia (40th & Walnut)

__

The Office of Senator Daylin Leach
Steve Hoenstine, Director of Communications
shoenstine@pasenate.com
W: 717-787-5544
M: 717-683-3110

Temple Students & Employees Kick-off $15 Campus-wide Wage Campaign

[Philadelphia, PA]– On Wednesday, students and employees of ‘15 Now Temple’ launched one of the first campaigns in the nation for a campus-wide $15 minimum wage. 15 Now members read a letter to President Neil Theobald co-signed by students groups, student workers, food service employees and adjunct professors that put forth several key demands for economic justice in North Philly.

Temple education student Zoe Buckwalter said, “Philadelphia is the poorest major city in the US. As one of the largest institutions in Philadelphia, Temple can and should take an active role in fighting poverty by paying all campus employees at least $15/hr, including student-workers, work-study students and contracted and subcontracted employees.”

After several speeches by students and Temple staff, the group attempted to enter Sullivan Hall to deliver the letter to President Theobald. They were met with campus security, and the president refused to receive any student representatives in his office.

The 15 Now letter demands that Temple immediately pay all campus workers at least $15 an hour, including work-study students and student-workers. Regarding contractors who refuse to pay $15 an hour, students  recommend the university seek to contract with companies that will fulfill Temple’s stated commitment to North Philadelphia with a $15 wage standard.

Temple senior Sarah Giskin says, “I am attending Temple full time and can’t make ends meet. I work several jobs making no more than than $10 an hour. I’ll also be $80,000 in debt when I leave. I don’t even know if I’ll find a job where I make enough money to pay my loans back. Temple needs to stand beside and commit to building a just economy on campus and in the city. “

Additionally, 15 Now Temple demanded Temple publicly endorse a $15/hr minimum wage in Philadelphia for every worker in the city. 15 Now Temple stands in solidarity with the United Academic of Philadelphia to demand that Temple University allow adjunct professors to vote on their union immediately.

Temple student Pele Irgangladen explained, “Our campaign is one of the first in the country to start pushing for a $15 campus wide minimum wage, but students across the country will join us in 2015. Today was just the start of our campaign at Temple, and we’ll keep pressing for $15 until we win.”

Philly’s $15 Minimum Wage Hearing March 4th!

On Wednesday, March 4th ’15 Now Philly’, SEIU 32BJ, and fast food workers are hosting a hearing in front of Philadelphia City Council on the $15 minimum wage in Philly!
It is a huge victory for low wage workers all over Philadelphia that our elected officials will hear the economic, moral, and legal case for implementing a significant raise in the minimum wage.
But for our hearing to have the most impact, we need to pack City Council chambers on March 4th. We need to fill the chamber from the floor to the balcony to show City Council we can’t wait a $15 minimum wage for all workers.
We need YOU present at the hearing to win $15 an hour.
$15 Minimum Wage City Council Hearing
Wednesday, March 4th 
10am
City Hall
Please RSVP as soon as possible so we can anticipate our numbers!: 15inPhilly@gmail.com