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Growing party scene invites unruly visitors

As students move west of Main Campus, students from other schools flock to Temple.

( KATE McCANN / TTN )

Friday nights at Temple are fairly standard for a large university. The week’s final class is dismissed and homes that normally remain quiet during the week begin to awaken west of Main Campus. In just a few hours, kegs will be tapped, parties will start and stereos will be turned up.

But this thriving Temple party scene is no longer a haven reserved for those taking classes in North Philadelphia. During the past three years, Campus Safety Services has seen a rise in the number of non-Temple students coming up North Broad Street and getting in trouble, including one incident on Aug. 26, in which a student from another university was charged with disorderly conduct after a group near 18th and Arlington streets tried to flip a Temple shuttle bus.

“It seems like every time we get groups of individuals, there’s always about a third [who are] non-students,” Deputy Director of CSS Charlie Leone said. “A lot of stuff is anecdotal…we’re trying to figure out how to get our hands on it.”

With such a large school in one of the country’s biggest cities, the allure of Temple is tangible, according to some students.

“This is a totally different experience,” sophomore theater major Matt Zarley said. “[Other schools] have big parties and stuff, but it’s not the same as walking through [Philadelphia], and getting that feel, having the pulse of the city around you.”

Although Temple is often considered synonymous with Philadelphia, Leone indicates an explosion in off-campus housing, particularly west of Main Campus, is most likely the culprit.

“That west side has really developed. There were areas that a couple of years ago that were just open properties, and now they’re putting new buildings up,” Leone said, indicating that the first noticeable increase in numbers occurred during 2009. “These last three years, it’s really started to take off.”

The area off, but near, Main Campus houses approximately 7,000 students, according to university estimates. The density of student housing, combined with the benefits of city life, create a cocktail for college partying that Leone said is convenient for people from other universities.

“You have access to a lot of transportation here, it’s a city. If you can’t get here by car, you can certainly get here by most public transportation,” Leone explained. “[You have] the density of population of students living in these areas. If you have hundreds of houses where students are living, chances are you’re going to find a party any Thursday, Friday or Saturday night.”

Some students agreed with Leone’s assessment of the availability of off-campus parties and said that Temple being in a city increases its off-campus prescence.

“Since [Temple’s] in a city, there’s actual housing. You’re not having a party on campus,” freshman political science major Schuyler Nissly said. “[At other schools] you live on campus, and that’s the place you have a party. If you’re at Temple there’s a bunch of off-campus housing.”

The trend brings with it a new set of complications for Temple police, specifically regarding Temple’s Student Code of Conduct and amnesty policy that do not apply to non-students.

Assistant Vice President of University Communications Ray Betzner said that students from other schools can be referred back to their home institutions if they are cited near Main Campus.

“We work with the student affairs offices at other universities and the police departments at other universities,” Betzner said. “If their behavior is unacceptable and we have information on who they are, we will be in touch with their home schools to let them know.”

“The idea that students from other institutions can come to North Philadelphia and misbehave and then go back home thinking it doesn’t mean anything simply isn’t true,” Betzner added.

Leone said that underage drinking citations require that officers contact the individual’s parents.

However, procedure becomes ambiguous when it comes to the Student Code of Conduct’s amnesty policy.

The policy is intended to encourage student safety. According to the Board of Trustees’ Policies and Procedures Manual, the policy is in place strictly for the protection of students.

“The university strongly encourages students to call Campus Safety Services for medical assistance for themselves or for other individuals who are dangerously under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” the manual states. Both the intoxicated student and student calling for help would be exempt from university discipline for violating the Student Code of Conduct, apart from participating in an alcohol and drug education course.

This amnesty program, however, makes no concession for non-Temple students — a complication that, Leone said, most officers try to account for on their own.

“The amnesty program only applies to the Student Code of Conduct, so non-students wouldn’t be part of our judicial process,” Leone said in a follow-up e-mail. “However, our police officers have discretion and usually focus on getting help for the person needing it.  Most people that get cited have been uncooperative and exhibit aggressive behavior.”

As CSS looks forward, the trend is not something that Leone said he sees disappearing any time soon.

“[This] is an overarching, large issue that we have to deal with,” he said, adding that the balance of university growth and student behavior is something that can only be reached with time. “It’s part of the growth, the process…it’s not that we don’t want [non-students] to come and visit, but we want you to be responsible.”

Betzner said that the process of letting other institutions know if their students are cited works both ways. Temple students cited at other universities, or anywhere outside of Main Campus, can still be subject to disciplinary action, he said.

Ali Watkins can be reached at allison.watkins@temple.edu. 

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