10-member TUnity committee to focus on campus diversity, receive new space

“The Burrow” at 2026 N. Broad St. is set to open for members in January.

Since Temple Student Government unveiled the TUnity Statement in October to promote diversity and acceptance on Main Campus, Jalen Blot, director of campus life and diversity, assembled a 10-member committee to continue focusing on diversity and plan events focused on it.

The committee will be staffed by students who represent different organizations. Blot said the chosen members, whom he declined to name, have been “exceptional when it comes to event planning and diversity initiatives that have been done on campus.”

“They’re passionate about educating, about learning more, about what diversity means to them personally and how it can relate to Temple’s environment,” Blot said.

“I was looking for people who were hungry,” Blot added. “I need people on the committee who want to see change on this campus and who want to do it, because it would be a disservice to the community if I made a committee that wasn’t in it for the betterment of Temple.”

Blot said the committee will gauge interest in potential events at TSG general assembly meetings and via emails to students.

Battle on Broad, scheduled for Dec. 9 starting at 8 p.m., is the first of the events the committee planned. The dance competition and fundraiser for breast cancer research will incorporate many styles of dance, and represent different cultures.

“[The] events will be catered to the student body as a whole that will engender a space in which people can actually enact what the statement says,” Blot said.

“What I seek to gain from this committee is to get a better perspective of what Temple University needs right now and how we can make sure that the statement lives on past words in a document,” Blot added. “This is a kick-off committee … we’re still trying to figure out how to make sure that this doesn’t die out.”

One of the next steps in the TUnity implementation process is the opening of a space in which students can have discussions and one that the TUnity committee can utilize. This space will be named “The Burrow” and is set to open at 2026 N. Broad St.

A soft opening is planned for early January, said Rhonda Brown, associate vice president of the office of institutional diversity, equality, advocacy and leadership.

“We’ll have a welcome party for the new staff members in January when they’re on board, so people can get to know them, know what they’re here to do and get into the space,” Brown said. “We can’t wait until the spring to make those connections, or the space will be idle.”

Brown said the space can be used as a tool to help the committee achieve its goals.

“I’m excited about it and I was happy to offer it a place to live,” she said.

“[Organizations] have to believe in the concepts and the things being said in the TUnity statement to use that space,” Brown added. “I think that might help that statement get a little momentum.”

Dr. Carmen Phelps, who has taught at Longwood University and the University of Toledo, will be the new director of student engagement and will address student concerns about diversity and take an office on the first floor, Brown said.

“We haven’t gotten student input in the past because there hadn’t been a student function,” she said. “Whenever you limit the number of people in the room, unfortunately you also limit ideas and you limit input, and I don’t want valuable things to be lost.”

“[It will be] a working group of people who will meet with some regularity to talk about what’s going on, what’s not going on, what they need, what they don’t need, and then that way we will have our hands on the group ourselves,” Brown added. “So while I think TSG is a great way to go, I’d rather have my own source of students, I’d rather have people come to me and not have to go through a filter.”

The Burrow is currently being furnished, but will be open for use next semester.

“We want students to get into it and start using it as soon as we have it, it’s as simple as that,” Brown said.

Lain Parsons can be reached  lian.parsons@temple.edu and on twitter @Lian_Parsons    

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