BloomTU, the Executive Branch of Temple Student Government, took office in May, in the midst of one of the most turbulent years in Temple University history, facing challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and student protests against police brutality throughout the summer.
“This summer, I think, has been one of the most productive in TSG history,” said Student Body President Quinn Litsinger, a junior political science major. “But one of the downfalls of that is that we’ve been so distracted with things that have popped up that we haven’t necessarily begun that heavily on a lot of our platform points.”
BloomTU won the April TSG election after making promises to increase TSG’s accountability to the student body, like implementing student referendums, creating a progress tracker for its initiatives and increasing student engagement within the North Philadelphia community.
BloomTU built on these goals during the summer while addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and instances of racism within the Temple community, Litsinger said.
BloomTU hosted an event to clean off campus streets when students moved in this month, helped develop a student pledge encouraging them to follow the university’s COVID-19 health guidelines and successfully pushed the university to divest funds from the Philadelphia Police Foundation, he added.
On Friday, TSG called on Temple’s administration to close on campus housing and transition all non-essential in-person courses and activities online.
“We have also made it clear to the university that we do not think that safety conditions are, or the surrounding safety of the Philadelphia community is, in the correct place right now to bring thousands of students back who are inclined to be making reckless decisions, who are inclined to be going out on the weekends,” Litsinger said.
Vice President of Services Mark Rey, a senior public health major, has used TSG’s platform to support students by creating the TSG “Diversifying the Public Health and Healthcare Workforces Scholarship.”
Using funds raised through OwlCrowd, the need-based scholarship will award $500 each to 10 students who aspire to work in public health or healthcare, have a 2.5 GPA at minimum and are members of culturally-based campus organizations, Litsinger said.
TSG couldn’t hold in-person meetings during the summer while onboarding new members, so BloomTU participated in biweekly meetings with TSG’s other branches, the Ethics Board and Parliament.
“They’re very transparent, they’re very open, very friendly,” said Speaker of Parliament Issa Kabeer, a seventh-year graduate student pursuing a diversity leadership graduate certificate. “We’re a unified student government and we all have the same goals.”
BloomTU hosted a two-hour community check-in on June 10 for students to share concerns about the university’s response to racist comments made by students on social media and an instance of police brutality against a student.
“That community forum allowed me to express my concern, my anger and my brokenness right now, being a Black man and also having a disability,” said Shawn Aleong, a sophomore legal studies major and TSG’s director of accessibility.
BloomTU also began discussions with university administrators on implementing a mandatory online diversity, equity and inclusion training module for students, starting with the class of 2025, Litsinger said.
However, Litsinger said BloomTU will not push the university to defund the Temple Police this semester, despite students protesting in favor of this over the summer.
BloomTU also followed through on its campaign promise to create a public initiative tracker, which TSG Chief of Staff Laurence Christopher, a junior theater major, will be in charge of updating as TSG pushes through new initiatives, Litsinger said.
Litsinger believes BloomTU will encourage cooperation among TSG and hold themselves accountable to student demands while facing the many challenges of the fall semester.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how all of the groundwork that we’ve laid down is going to build up into larger initiatives that we have planned throughout the year,” Litsinger said.