Demand Sanctuary At Temple U

Dear President Englert and Temple University Board of Trustees                              

Temple University claims to pride itself on its dedication to diversity and access. But how can it value these things if its students live in fear of deportation, fear of violence from police, fear of sexual assault from fellow students, fear of not being able to afford classes, or fear of losing the community they grew up in? Temple’s responsibility as a institution of higher education should be to provide safety to its students so that they can get the best education possible. Temple has an obligation to declare itself a sanctuary, a safe-haven not only for immigrants, but for all.

A true sanctuary campus would guarantee a living wage of at least $15/hr, unobstructed union rights, and increased mental health services. A sanctuary university would be a university that prioritizes the safety of women, LGBTQI people, and people of color rather than breeding a culture of sexual and racial violence. A sanctuary university would respect and uplift the surrounding Black community rather than aggressively gentrifying the neighborhood and pushing people out of their homes.

The students and faculty have spoken, we support undocumented immigrants. If Temple wants to support its student body, and support vulnerable populations in this dangerous political climate, these are the steps your students are demanding. Temple has the opportunity to be a truly inclusive institution, showing in practice that you care about the humanity of each member of the diverse Temple community, and we are demanding that you take this opportunity to openly demonstrate your commitment to making Temple University an institution that values its student body and the people it employs.

Although Philadelphia is considered a sanctuary city, we call on Temple University to publicly declare itself a sanctuary campus. Students and workers on campus need to know that Temple will remain committed to their safety regardless of the city’s sanctuary status. But we do not think that Temple calling itself a sanctuary is enough; we encourage the Temple administration to take direct steps to make the university more accessible to undocumented people. Our university should function as a safe haven where undocumented people and all marginalized communities can turn for support and sanctuary.

We demand that Temple …

  1. Publicly declare Temple a Sanctuary Campus
  2. Cut ties with all law enforcement agencies that collaborate with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) and refuse law enforcement agencies who collaborate with ICE access to any Temple properties or information
  3. Institute a policy prohibiting campus police from inquiring about immigration status, enforcing immigration laws, participating with ICE/CBP in actions and refusing to cooperate with any ‘registration’ system that seeks to target or surveil Muslims.
  4. Revise the code of conduct to make sure anti-discrimination policy includes immigration status.
  5. Provide resources including legal services for undocumented students and their families.
  6. Grant in-state tuition to undocumented students who are Pennsylvania residents.

We would be happy to discuss this further with the administration so that collectively we can create the best possible plan to make Temple a sanctuary for all.

Asociación de Estudiantes Latinos

Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance

15 Now of Temple University

Philadelphia Socialist Alternative

Stadium Stompers

Temple Socialists

Black Law Students Association

Activate TU

Indivisible Temple

Organization of African American Studies Undergraduate Students

Temple Association of University Professionals

GenUN Temple

Babel Poetry Collective

Temple Refugee Outreach

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Temple students and community members denied access to Board of Trustees meeting.

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.

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Students and Community kept out of meeting by police

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.
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Up with Community Down with the Stadium

Up with Workers Down with the Stadium

Up with Students Down with the Stadium

Signed,

15 Now of Temple University

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

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.