15 Now Statement on Temple Stadium Plans: Democracy, Funding, and Gentrification.

Last week Temple administration announced their intention to build a football stadium in North Philadelphia. President Theobald and the Board of Trustees intend to raise 100 million dollars for the project. The administration has not consulted with students, faculty, or the community about the massive project to tear up city blocks.

President Theobald and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Patrick O’Connor have made this decision without the approval of students, faculty, and the community. Temple University intends to use private funds from unnamed donors and $20 million dollars in state funds to move ahead with plans to further gentrify North Philadelphia, displace community resources and imperil funds needed to pay campus workers and minimize tuition costs . Temple University is a public school that belongs to its students, its workers, and the residents of North Philadelphia.  It can not function as a corporation where presidents and chairmen are CEO’s; Temple is a public university and the people have a right to a voice in decisions that affect all aspects of the community. Our school is funded by student tuition money and taxpayer dollars. We as students and workers will be held accountable for misspent funds as we pay down student debt, and we deserve a voice in making decisions about how Temple utilizes its funds. 

In a recent article published in the Daily News, staff writer David Murphy demonstrates that many other universities in similar locations and financial situations, like the University of Central Florida and Akron, have invested in on-campus stadiums with negative financial results. Schools have lost millions of dollars on stadiums and the extra administration they maintain to manage them and have used student tuition to pay for the extra costs. These stadium plans have frequently coincided with layoffs, wage cuts, and tuition hikes to offset million dollar deficits created by the football program.

In addition, the $20 million dollars of state funding pledged to Theobald by much-maligned former Republican Governor Corbett is taxpayer money that should be used to ease the burden of tuition and raise wages for workers. Public funds do not exist to build fiscally risky football stadiums, but to make college more accessible to all. This is our money, we have a right to say where it is spent, and we do not want the money spent on a stadium, we want it spent on students, workers, and community programs.

For years Temple has had negative relations with the community. From buying up properties and building the university out into local communities to over-policing of residents, Temple continues its assault on North Philadelphians day in and day out. While Temple claims to have good relations with its neighbors we know from extensive testimony and input from community leaders that the neighborhood has nothing but disdain and contempt for the university. Already Temple uses gentrification and police force to push residents further and further out.  Already residents complain of the disrespect shown by some Temple students who engage in destructive and reckless behavior at late hours, littering the streets with trash and broken bottles. The South Philly stadiums are separate from the city itself, not placed in the middle of a residential neighborhood. An on-campus stadium will dramatically shift the culture of North Philadelphia from a residential area to a clogged commercial sporting complex filled with belligerent drinking, excessive noise, and unpredictable traffic patterns. President Theobald has already admitted there are no plans in place to handle the traffic of thousands of fans in a residential neighborhood.  

Temple’s decision to build a 100 million dollar stadium shows where Temple’s priorities lie. While the board intends to raise tuition by 3% this year, they want to spend 100 million dollars to build a stadium. While campus workers are still paid under $15 an hour and students are the lowest paid workers, Temple decides to spend public funds on building a stadium. While adjunct professors, who make up the majority of the faculty, fight for the right to unionize and higher pay and benefits, Temple decides to spend money on building a stadium. While Temple has been instructed to build a sexual assault crisis center on campus and take rape and assault seriously, Temple decides to spend money on building a stadium. While the North Philadelphia community continues to suffer from deep poverty, food deserts, and lack of access to quality education, Temple decides to invest in building a football stadium. Temple president Neil Theobald and Chairman of the Board Patrick O’Connor are clearly out of touch with the everyday struggles of students, faculty, campus workers, and the surrounding community. Who does Temple have in mind in building the stadium? We can only assume the administration is looking to benefit investors, the corporations like Comcast and Duane Morris that dominate Board of Trustees, and the out-of-state students looking for a football centered school.

Temple was founded on the principle that higher education should be accessible to all and that working class people in North Philadelphia deserve affordable access to higher education. Temple is for the working people of Philadelphia, for people who live in North Philadelphia, and for students who are trying to get an education and better themselves.

We will not let this stadium plan pass through the board quietly. In the weeks to come we will be garnering support from students, workers, and the community. Temple must listen to the people that make up this university and the people that live in North Philadelphia. Here is a short list of things Temple university could be spending money on instead of building a football stadium.

  1. Pay all workers including student workers and subcontracted workers at least $15/hr.
  2. Provide scholarships for students.
  3. Immediately freeze tuition hikes
  4. Allow adjunct professors to unionize and provide full pay and benefits.
  5. Invest in a sexual assault crisis center and making Temple a rape-free campus.
  6. Invest in community relations and public access to university resources.
  7. Build a program that provides a pathway to affordable higher education for North Philadelphia youth.

As students, faculty, workers, and community we deserve more from our public university

15 Now of Temple University

15 Now Temple Responds to President Theobald’s “State of the University”

On Thursday October 8th the President of Temple University Neil Theobald addressed a crowd behind closed doors in a gathering not open to the student body. He delivered his state of the university address boasting Temple’s football record and the massive new buildings Temple is constructing on and around Temple’s campus.

As mentioned above, students were not invited to this event. Students in 15 Now Temple wrote a response to Theobald’s state of the university. Here it is:

On Thursday, October 8th, President Theobald gave his “State of the University” address.  Students were not invited to this event. While President Theobald celebrates Temple’s football record and the new buildings Temple has constructed, the community surrounding the university, which is primarily Black and Latino, is one of the poorest zip codes in the nation. While President Theobald pats himself on the back for attracting new donors and an increase in Temple’s US News and World Report ranking, thousands of student workers, who are already facing rising tuition and a mountain of student debt, are paid poverty wages.  

Temple claims that paying higher wages would mean an increase in tuition and that it is not fiscally responsible. Is President Theobald’s six-figure salary, personal driver, and penthouse in Rittenhouse square fiscally responsible? Is the 35 million dollars Temple spends on advertising and building gaudy monstrosities like Morgan Hall while eliminating affordable housing fiscally responsible? Are the exorbitant salaries of coaches and millions poured into the football and basketball programs fiscally responsible? Temple University’s financial woes are not a matter of lacking funds but a failure of priorities.  

The State of North Philadelphia is that of a crisis. Temple University can either exacerbate or it can help alleviate this crisis. Currently it is doing the former. Temple gentrifies and forces community members out of their homes. Temple Police act as conquistadors establishing and maintaining the borders of the Temple Colony of North Philadelphia. The militarization of the campus creates an artificial border between the university and the surrounding community, which encourages hostility and violence. The Temple board of trustees is occupied by the super rich, governing as a dictatorship, ignoring the cries of students, faculty, staff, and the community. President Theobald has consistently refused to meet with students to address these concerns, using police force to prevent even a letter from being delivered.

As an institution Temple University condones sexual violence, while simultaneously using the threat of violence as an excuse for further militarization and surveillance. Despite recommendations after a Title IX investigation, Temple refuses to establish a rape crisis center on campus to support and aid victims of sexual violence. The fact that Patrick O’Connor, the lawyer who defended Bill Cosby after he was accused of assaulting a Temple employee, is the chairman of the board of trustees makes it clear that sexual violence is institutionally sanctioned at Temple University and indicates an absolute disregard for students’ safety, specifically for the safety of women and LGBTQ people.

Temple University operates like a corporation with regards to it’s students and employees and much like an occupying force with regards to the surrounding community. President Theobald’s restructuring of funding and purging of radical professors has been part of a large scale neo-liberalization of higher education. Departments such as African American Studies, Latin American Studies, Women’s Studies and the liberal arts as a whole have been sacrificed on the altar of profit and gutted of substance. President Theobald and the board of trustees fear the ideas and concepts discussed in these departments and want to keep students ignorant in these subjects.  

Temple can become a great institution that serves the community and educates young people towards a better future. Temple can become a cornerstone of Philadelphia when as an institution Temple pays workers living wages, respects North Philadelphia, rededicates itself to liberal arts education, and when Temple makes campus a rape-free environment that is safe for all students and faculty. Towards this possible future, we call on Temple to make very necessary changes to the function and priorities of the university.

We call on Temple University to pay all it’s employees at least $15 an hour, including student workers, and require all businesses that it contracts with to do the same.  

We call on Temple University to respect the rights of Adjunct professors and all other workers to unionize.  

We call on Temple University to actively engage with the residents of North Philadelphia and address the concerns and demands from community members including Temple’s role as a gentrifying force in North Philadelphia and the relationship between Temple’s police force and the local community.

We call on Temple University to create a rape crises center on campus in accordance with the recommendations from the Title IX investigation.

We call on Temple University to stop the assault on liberal arts programs and its faculty and rebuild liberal arts with the integrity of academic freedom and full funding.

Temple Students, faculty, campus workers, and North Philadelphia community members will be speaking out on these injustices and delivering 15 Now’s State of the University to President Theobald tomorrow at 1:45 pm.


Where’s President Theobald?

Temple Workers Need 15 Now!

Join us on Tuesday, October 13th as Temple U students and workers publicly kick off their campaign with a large action on campus!  Come out to demand a $15 minimum wage at Temple!

The student-led branch of 15 Now at Temple has been working hard this semester to build their organization and work with the unions representing campus workers. Nearly all the campus unions have endorsed the campaign, and dozens of student workers have shown up to weekly meetings. Temple has already started fighting back by making it difficult for 15 Now to reserve rooms and canvass on campus. President Theobald has been refusing to meet with students to discuss campus wages for over 6 months.

We are ready to do what it takes to win.

we are here today to remind the political leadership of Philadelphia of their commitments to the workers of this city.

Did you know that there is legislation sitting in committee in City Council that would have let Philadelphia vote on raising the minimum wage this November? Did you know that rather than openly oppose this initiative, the Chamber of Commerce worked behind the scenes to block it with procedure and bureaucracy?

Well we are here today to remind the political leadership of Philadelphia of their commitments to the workers of this city.

We are here today to let them know that we have their back if they take a risk and stand with us to challenge the Chamber of Commerce and Harrisburg by raising the Minimum Wage in Philly.

We are here today to let them know that if they are not true to their promises, if they hide behind the unjust laws that keep 200,000 working Philadelphians in poverty then we are ready to do what it takes to win.  By any means necessary.

In Seattle it took the Unions, active grassroots campaigning, community allies, and an independent socialist City Councilor working together, negotiating strategy and tactics, building alliances, working through disagreements, but all pushing in the same direction to win 15. And we had to piss off a lot of politicians along the way.

In Philadelphia, the fight for a $15 minimum wage is one of the most challenging fights there is. We are not Seattle. We are not SanFrancisco. We are not LA. We are the poorest major city in the country. The majority of Philadelphians are people of color.  And we are an overwhelmingly working class city in a state that has taken our rights away at every turn.

Harrisburg and the Chamber of Commerce that controls it will fight against every gain for working class people in Philly and across the state. And even when we win, they will fight to take it away.

They have told us we can’t raise our minimum wage.

Told us we can’t govern our own schools.

Told us we can’t pass our own gun control laws.

Philadephia has a long history of working class struggle, it hasn’t always been pretty, there are pieces of this city’s history that we are not proud of,  but over all

It is a story of our neighborhoods & communities

It is a story of abolitionists, socialists, working class radicals, and civil rights fighters.

It is a story of workers organizing to defend our class interests

these struggles have been organically linked with the Civil Rights movement. The fights to build multiracial unions. Don’t shop where you can’t work. For Affordable Housing. For Civil Service reform that opened the doors to city jobs to women and minorities based on qualifications instead of race, gender or political connections.

Who was on the other side for all these struggles?

Who opposed change at every turn and worked against the tide?

Who played every card in the deck to keep us divided by race and gender?  The Chamber of Commerce.

Names like:

  • Vare
  • Pew
  • Mitten
  • Gowan
  • Grundy
  • Mellon

And many others who hide behind the scenes of history. Rich white men who fought to defend their class interests, the interests of the bosses in this city and the state of PA. And what are their interests?  low wages and long hours, union-busting, and a working class divided by racial, gender, ethnic, and economic lines.

Make no doubt about it, we face strong, well funded opponents who know what they want and are willing to go to great lengths to defend their power, privilege and wealth. Because the one thing they fear most is a militant, united, multi racial, multi gendered working class movement.

We cannot match the Chamber dollar for dollar. We cannot beat the Chamber at their own game. We know they will never give us 15. They have never given us anything. Everything we have, we had to fight for.

So Today we are asking:

1- Governor Wolf and his allies in Harrisburg who say they support higher wages to follow NY Governor Cuomo’s lead and do whatever it takes to raise the minimum wage AND allow cities in Pennsylvania to set our own wages.

2 – Democratic Mayoral nominee Jim Kenney to stay strong in his support for a $15 minimum wage, to be a leader and advocate for raising the minimum wage and support binding legislation.

3- A new City Council to introduce and pass binding legislation to raise the minimum wage in Philadelphia.

August 15th – State Wide Day Of Action

JustinH_JustinH-R1-050-23AOn August 15th there were rallies and direct actions in Philly, Lancaster, Lehigh Valley, and Pittsburgh to call out Harrisburg’s inaction on raising the state minimum wage.

In Philly 15now was joined by allies from POWER, Fight For 15, Philly for Bernie, Green Party City Council Candidate Kristin Combs, Neighborhood networks, ROC, Temple 15now, Drexel law students and many others. We rallied at the Chamber of Commerce offices at 200 S Broad, then marched to Dillworth Plaza for closing remarks then shut down the McDonalds at Broad and Arch for 4 hours.


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McDonald’s is SHUT DOWN!!

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Update! 15/hour charter amendment to be introduced today!

We want to thank everyone who called Councilman Greenlee’s office to show your support for the 15/hour Charter Amendment. Councilman Goode will be introducing the legislation today for Kenyata Johnson who has a family emergency, and Greenlee has said he will not  block it – but we are still waiting for a timeline that will ensure the question is on the November ballot. All your calls made a difference!!! 

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.