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 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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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.”

Solidarity Statement with Colgate University Sit-in

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Students at  Colgate U are in the midst of a 3-day sit-in demanding changes to their university regarding racial and economic justice among other things. You can read about it here and here
Below is a letter of support from Temple University student organizations,  including the newly-formed Temple branch of 15 Now. 
Statement:
Dear Association of Critical Collegians at Colgate University,

We are students of Temple University and residents of the Philadelphia community. We stand in solidarity with your struggle for social justice at Colgate University. We, too, have dealt with racism, classism, heterosexism, transphobia, misogyny, ableism and other forms of oppression on our campus and in the larger community. We continue to deal with it on a daily basis, not only in the form of individual words and acts of hate, but also in the form of systemic exclusion of certain groups and the privileging of others at our university and other institutions.

We have petitioned and organized rallies, protests, and sit-ins, around these causes and in response to specific transgressions against us and our allies perpetrated by the University, the Police, and other forces. We will continue to fight for social justice at our university and in society at large. We believe that we, the students as well as staff, professors, and other workers deserve democratic control over the function of the institutions that would not exist without our labor. What you are doing at Colgate by staging a days long sit-in at the admissions office is a critical step in this direction. We applaud you.

In Solidarity,

Temple University Chapter of 15 Now

Student Coalition for the Reinstatement of Dr. Anthony Monteiro

Temple Socialists