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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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

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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We Work! We Sweat! Put 15 On Our Check! Strike 4/15!

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On April 15th the City of Philadelphia Erupted in Raucous, Righteous Noise!

Fight For 15 and 15Now activists spread throughout the city for a day-long series of actions in protest of the corporate policies that exploit the working class in order to fill the pockets of the 1%.  We joined our sisters and brothers from across the country and around the world in fighting back against the continuing international capitalist assault on workers

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From South to North, and East to West we marched, rallied, mic checked, and occupied for $15/hour and a union. The chants “15 Now!”, and “We Work!  We Sweat!  Put 15 On Our Check!” echoed throughout the city.

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At Temple University students, faculty and food service workers struck, rallied and marched out to join the action. Temple 15Now invaded the University President Theobald’s Barbecue to deliver a letter demanding 15 and union for all Temple U. employees. Then they occupied and mic checked Morgan Hall to speak out against low wages, poverty, institutional racism and the university’s role in gentrifying the neighborhood. After being escorted out by the Temple Police, the Students and faculty got on a bus to the McDonalds at 40th and Walnut to join a rally of hundreds of students and workers on strike for $15 and a union. Workers shared their stories and students gave speeches in solidarity as McDonalds workers and police watched on. After shutting down the McDonalds, they marched together down Chestnut St to the 30th St. Bridge.  Onlookers and workers joined the crowd and a drum line beat time while the marchers chanted “straight from the 215, we’re fighting for $15 and doing it live.”

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15Now Philly hit the McDonald’s and Popeye’s  at Broad and Carpenter, for a spirited mic check that communicated our mission, asked on-duty workers to join the cause and outlined the legal rights of fast-food workers to engage in unionizing activity without retaliation during their personal or on-duty break time. Then we took the street and marched, chanted and sang our way north on Broad Street, right through the heart of City Hall and on to the McD’s at Broad and Arch Street.

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Multiple marches converged downtown and SEIU 32BJ, Fight For 15, and 15Now were joined by a diverse cross-section of local unions and community organizations. As the crowd swelled to over 1000 we marched through Center City stopping at several corporate headquarters for brief remarks then danced and chanted to a final rally at 30th Street Station to meet the march from West Philly. A successful day, but just another in a series of small steps along the way to our ultimate goal. 15 Now Philly stands committed to building on these successes, broadening our coalition and keeping the pressure on State and City elected officials to meet our demand for a $15 minimum wage now.

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This Saturday: Philly’s 4th Low Wage Workers Council Meeting

Across the country low wage workers are organizing for $15 And A Union.

On April 11th Philadelphia’s Low Wage Workers Council is holding it’s 4th public meeting. 12-2pm At 4029 Market St

These meetings are open to all workers as a space to learn about organizing history, share common experiences and skills.

This Saturday the Council will be discussing the importance of STRIKES and MASS ACTIONS throughout history. We’ll be talking about the 1934 Teamsters strike in Minneapolis, the Memphis Sanitation worker strike in 1968, and the Fast Food Strikes of today!

All Out On the 15th!

Then next Wednesday April 15th will see the largest action ever of low wage workers fighting for a $15/hour minimum wage, with 60,000 low-wage workers and supporters in over 200 cities participating. Fast food workers will be joined by adjunct college faculty, retail and airport workers, home health care aids, and groups formed out of the historic #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Lets go all out in Philly on the 15th!

It’s a #15Spring!

Starting in December 2012 with a strike of fast food workers in New York City, this movement has spread like wildfire across the US and has shown the way forward in the fight against historic levels of inequality. According to a January Hart Research poll, 63% of the country now supports a $15 federal minimum wage. Support is even higher in most big cities.

Everywhere, anger at corporate greed – and the extreme wealth and racial inequities – is reaching a boiling point. The fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage has the potential to become a powerful mass movement uniting low-wage workers demanding union rights, people of color standing up against racism, and young people facing a dead-end future.

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Latest Fundraising Push by 15 Now Philly

The Media Caucus of 15 Now Philly has launched it’s most ambitious fundraising drive to date.   Go to our Indiegogo fundraiser page and donate today.
Why should you donate to 15 Now Philly? This is a movement led by, and in the interests  of, working class people. As a working peoples’ movement, we depend on the contributions of workers. We don’t take money from foundations or corporations. In fact, you won’t see big business lining up with bags of cash for this cause.
We have expenses necessary to make a $15 minimum wage a reality – both in Philly but nationally. We have printing, media and other necessary expenses — and we also have to pay our hard-working organizer a living wage for her efforts. 
What can you do?  Donate as much as you can afford today. Ask friends, family and co-workers to donate. If you belong to a union, church or community organization, ask them to endorse and donate.
Unfortunately, just because we have a worthy cause, the money that we need to stay afloat will not just lay itself down at our feet… No… Just like with everything else – we have to fight for it!
So, please donate today. And share the link as widely as possible.

Temple University 15 Now Kick-Off Meeting a Rousing Success

Wednesday night, October 15th,  more than 40 college students gathered at the campus kickoff of ‘15 Now Temple University’, a new formation of undergraduate and graduate students who have joined the fight for a $15 minimum wage in Philadelphia and across the country. The teach-in featured several student speakers, many of whom are struggling to attend classes and pay for college, while working low wage jobs.

Jill Richards, who helped organize the meeting, said “This group is doing real work for real change, and we can’t survive on the current minimum wage. Once I heard Temple was starting its own chapter, I knew I had to do something about it.”TU1

Richards and several other organizers spent several weeks planning the meeting, inviting friends and coworkers, canvassing the community, and handing out flyers to students on campus. The high turnout mirrored the level of interest in boosting wages that citywide organizers have found in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.

During her testimony, Temple student, worker and 15 Now organizer Nadia Adam explained, “I work retail full-time at $10.50 an hour, and I am a neuroscience major part time, which is not the easiest major to have. My child is in daycare all day, but these are the choices I have to make if I hope to make it out of poverty anytime soon. Making $15 an hour would let me escape some debt later on and have some spending money for my child.”

The students also led breakout group discussions on “$15 an hour vs. $10.10,” “$15 an hour and intersectionality,” and “the history of student movements.”

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At Temple and universities across the country, students are increasingly positioned to join broader working class movements fighting for better living conditions. Student Jaq Basilis said, “The history of Temple is as a working class institution. It used to be a place where people could come get an affordable education and a decent job. Now our school is becoming privatized and exponentially more expensive. Only certain types of people can afford to go here, or we leave in tens of thousands of dollars of debt.”

Students left the meeting pledging to join 15 Now Philly, help canvass surrounding North Philly neighborhoods, and lobby city officials to take on the fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Basilis added “I don’t want to feel like I’m in a different community on campus and in my neighborhood at 17th and Girard. We are part of the same struggle.”

15 Now Philly Statement on 9/4 Fast Food Worker Strikes

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15 Now Philly Statement on 9/4 Fast Food Worker Strikes

issued September 4 

15 Now members in Philly are proud to stand in solidarity with Fight for 15 fast food workers who are bravely going on strike today for $15 and a union. These workers are on the frontlines of the most important worker movement in recent memory. But higher wages for fast food workers are only the beginning. 15 Now Philly members are organizing ALL workers in Philadelphia to demand at least a $15 an hour wage floor. McDonalds isnt the only bad employer in Philly. Look at Comcast, Aramark, the University of Pennsylvania, Stephen Starr restaurants, Rite Aid. These bosses CAN pay $15 an hour, and Philadelphians deserve $15 an hour. Over 30% of us live in poverty, and continuing to allow this is an unecessary stain on our city.

People have told us that raising the minimum wage in Philadelphia is impossible, because of the preemption from Harrisburg.  But we want to be absolutely clear that the 1% has written these laws to keep our city in poverty. The truth is: The only thing that’s impossible is winning any victory for workers by following the wealthy’s rules.

Did auto workers in the 1930s follow the law when they waged nationwide sit-down strikes that brought millions of workers into unions over a series of months? NO. Those strikes were not legally protected like today’s, but they were just and necessary. Workers had no neat legal process to form a union by petitioning the NLRB. So they struck at their workplace and they forced the bosses to the table by interrupting production and hitting the 1% right in their bottom line.

It’s clear today that fast food workers and healthcare workers are willing to do what it takes to win $15 an hour here. But are are our elected officials willing to do what it takes to fight for 15?  We in 15 Now are tired of playing nice, of living in poverty while our elected officials throw up their hands and say there is nothing they can do. We don’t accept that logic. When wealthy corporations tell City Council to break the rules for them, our elected officials say yes every time. Now Philadelphia’s workers are asking that City Council afford us the same luxury as CEOs.

We call on city council and Mayor Nutter to take immediate action to raise the minimum wage in Philly to $15 an hour NOW.