Trustees approved a number of items as student-activists sat-in at their meeting.
Not on the schedule of speakers at yesterday’s Board of Trustees meeting, student-activists sat-in and addressed the university’s top-decision makers before the board approved a slew of actions recommended from its committees.
Members of Temple Community Against Mountaintop Removal, a student-activist group associated with Occupy Temple that seeks to end the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining, demonstrated before the board yesterday, March 12, for the second time. The group first surfaced when it protested at a public session meeting in October 2011.
Donning tape over their mouths, members of the group and of several other campus organizations, including Temple Democratic Socialists and Students for Justice in Palestine, stood in front of their seats in the Feinstein Lounge of Sullivan Hall silently as the meeting began. When President Ann Weaver Hart finished delivering a report about student leaders on campus, the group chimed in.
“Speaking of student leaders…as students, we feel we deserve a better manner for dialogue, engagement and decision-making with the administration. Until these manners are made available to us, it is our statement that we have no voice,” the activists chanted, following the lead of senior Latin American Studies major Ethan Jury.
The board did not verbally reply or recognize the student-activists or their claims, but continued its agenda following the brief action.
Ray Betzner, assistant vice president of university communications, said the administration has met with the activist group, citing meetings between TCAMR members and Dean of Students Dr. Stephanie Ives and Associate University Counsel Valerie Harrison. The members also met with Hart and Patrick J. O’Connor, chairman of the board, after the October 2011 public session.
“The protesters asked for a dialogue with the university, and they have been having a dialogue with the university,” Betzner said. “We will continue that dialogue.”
Following the verbal action by the activists, O’Connor led the board in quick unanimous approvals of recommendations from committees.
The board approved the appointment of Dennis Alter and Edward Rudolph as state-appointed voting trustees.
Recommended by the facilities committee, the board approved a number of construction actions, including the $17.5 million design of the new library on Broad Street proposed in Temple’s 20/20 plan. The board also approved an increase of $37 million for the construction of the science education research center, which will total $137 million.
Finishing renovations of Pearson and McGongigle halls were also granted an increase of more than $1.5 million – a project with a cost of more than $59.8 million.
A 4.5 percent across-the-board increase in university housing rates for 2012-13 was approved, as recommended by the student affairs committee. The increase ranges from $288 for Johnson and Hardwick and Peabody residence halls, to $378 for Triangle Apartments.
When O’Connor adjourned the meeting, board members were invited to meet with student representatives at Pearson and McGonigle.
As trustees and administrators shuffled out of the lounge, the group of activists once again addressed the room.
“The way the administration functions…these open sessions, they’ve already decided on everything,” Jury said after the meeting. “We want to have a voice in the way that this university functions.”
Trustee Emeritus Edward H. Rosen, who said he was an invited guest at the meeting, met with members of TCAMR following its close to listen to their concerns.
“It was out of curiosity that I went back and talked to these young people, and they explained their position and I’m going to try to find out more about it,” Rosen said. “I admit that I’m not knowledgeable [on their cause], but I will be.”
Angelo Fichera can be reached at email@example.com.