More than 100 Temple students blocked parts of Broad Street for three hours Sunday to protest the declining enrollment of minority students at the university.
The march began at the Bell Tower and continued to Rittenhouse Square as pedestrians stopped to watch along the way. The marchers hoped to reach President David Adamany at his downtown residence. It was purposely planned for Sunday morning as admitted students filled Temple’s campus for an orientation.
Students claim that this is their fifth attempt to reach President Adamany, and they hoped a protest of this size would produce results. The goal of the protest was to address the decline in black, Latino and Asian enrollment in the last five years, while white enrollment has steadily risen.
The protest was organized by Temple Student Government (TSG) and the Majority Action Coalition (MAC). The marchers were demanding a meeting with Adamany and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Howard Gittis to address their concerns.
“We want someone to talk to us, but we don’t want a meeting with anyone other than David Adamany and the board,” said Jackeline Aponte, president of Asociacion de Estudiantes Latino (ADEL) and the Co-chair of MAC. “We want to meet directly with the people who make decisions.”
President David Adamany did not appear, but several Temple administrators were on campus for the orientation. Vice-President of Operations Bill Bergman looked on as students blocked the intersection of Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
“It is a college campus – that is what people do,” Bergman said. “It’s their right.”
Chuck Williams is an adjunct professor at Temple and a Co-chair of MAC.
“This is going to embarrass [Temple],” said Williams as students sat down on the pavement to block a busy intersection at Broad and Vine streets. “This will put pressure on the president of Temple by the top leaders of the city to do something.”
Vice-president of ADEL and Co-chair of MAC Daisy Valentin said that they were trying to make a statement having the protest on the day of the orientation.
“We are not trying to scare new students away, just letting them know the facts,” said
Valentin. “You know there is a real concern if people are willing to come out on a Sunday morning.”
The protest had varying effects on the admitted students and their parents who watched with interest from the steps of the Liacouras Center.
“This really bugs me to see something like this going on,” said Dianna Basen from New York. “When I think about [my granddaughter] coming here where they still have to fight for diversity…The City of Brotherly what?”
Basen’s granddaughter, Dionna Robinson-Davis, said this has changed her views of Temple because she thought it was a diverse school. Some of the admitted students just watched with indifference.
“It’s cool that they are exercising their right but it is interesting that they chose today,” said Andy Troutman of Harrisburg. “Diversity is great but it is not something I have to worry about as a white suburban student.”
This mindset was a concern of many who participated in the protest. Several students said the biggest disappointment in the protest was the lack of white students who attended it. TSG Director of Diversity Affairs Rorri Geller said that this is an issue that affects the entire student body so there should be more students involved.
The protest was peaceful as there were no arrests and only minor police altercations when students tried to block and intersection at 15th and Market streets.
TSG President Brian Carter was pleased with the protest as he looked on.
“Anytime you can mobilize students it is always a good thing,” Carter said. “I hope the [administration] realizes that it is not just Latino and black students who are upset about this.”
Josephine Munis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.