Temple Student Government held its first monthly community forum on Wednesday at Amos Recreation Center on 16th Street near Montgomery Avenue. This forum was open to students and community residents to voice their concerns on issues pressing their daily lives.
Nearly 20 people attended the meeting, including TSG members, students and 10 community residents. A majority of those who attended were also apart of Stadium Stompers.
Monthly community forums were one of the aspects that was on the current TSG’s platform during the 2016 election last March. The first forum consisted of setting an agenda and a foundation for what future forums will address.
The forum was sectioned into five sections: an introduction, icebreakers, a debriefing, agenda setting and final remarks.
“[The forum] will build better relations between the community and students,” said Brandon Bennett, TSG’s director of local and community affairs. “A lot of times students don’t get to interact with community members in a safe place … So a community forum is a place for more dialogue.”
Bennett said that he and Jai Singletary, TSG’s vice president of external affairs, notified community members about the monthly forums by having dinner with residents, attending meetings at the Church of the Advocate on Diamond and meeting with TUPD Captain Eileen Bradley.
During the forum, community members and students voiced their opinions about the proposed on-campus football stadium, the cleanliness of streets, communication between Temple and community residents and parking.
Many spoke about how there was a misconception among new students about the surrounding neighborhood. There was a common agreeance that rumors created fear in students who were interested in moving off-campus.
“A lot of students might not feel safe living off-campus,” Bennett said. “It wouldn’t be that way if you knew who lived on your block.”
Bennett said that he had been speaking with Captain Bradley and asked those at the meeting if community members would want to receive TU Alerts.
Morgan Green, TSG’s publicist, was an Owl Team Leader and said that orientation focuses on aspects like the heavy presence of TUPD and the Walking Escort program.
It was suggested that students are taught about the culture and lifestyle of North Philadelphia neighborhoods during their orientation.
“I was curious about TSG wanting to meet with the community,” said Jackie Wiggins, who is a committeeperson for the 11th division of the 32nd ward, which is near Main Campus. “I thought that they were being forthright and that they heard from many block captains about the neglect of this area.”
One of the topics that was frequented was Temple’s proposal for an on-campus football stadium. All of the attendees were in consensus that their lives would be affected and that the community would be changed in negative ways.
“I wouldn’t say the stadium was a cause for the forum, but obviously it is something that will be addressed and needs to be addressed,” Bennett said.
“I felt like it was a good first step to see TSG to reach out and try to hear the voices of the community,” said Philip Gregory, a junior English major. “I thought it was necessary for me to be there to support the community members, because a lot of the times they don’t have that support from students.”
Bennett believes that the monthly forums are important and could resolve underlying tension.
“Temple’s relations with the community hasn’t been the greatest,” Bennett said, “especially with the stadium.”
The date for the next community forum is still being determined.