Comments lack empathy, show ignorance

It finally happened. Some of my fellow classmates finally said something on a public forum to prove they’ve been afflicted with suburban Simple Simon syndrome.

On Sept. 25, Tau Kappa Epsilon was temporarily suspended as a result of a police search. Several Temple students lashed out against “The Temple News” and its coverage of the story in its Oct. 10 edition. They were unhappy that a 19-year-old mother living behind the fraternity was quoted, saying that their partying was “ridiculous.” On the newspaper’s online forum, the comments
shared one underlying theme: How could someone like ‘that,’ say something like ‘this’ about someone like ‘them’?

“The fact that this girl with a baby was even given enough credit to have a reliable opinion disgusts me greatly,” a student identifying herself as ‘Becky’ said. “Those that live directly next to Tau Kappa Epsilon would have a much better understanding of what goes on, and would know better than a 19-year-old with a kid would,” a student named “Leah” said.

These comments pinpointed a shameful classist and racist ignorance that sneaks around our campus, fueling the feud between
students and their North Philadelphia neighbors.

“The people who live behind ‘fraternity
row’ are not in the greatest standing as citizens themselves,” “Christina” said.

“The woman interviewed should not be examining what happens in our backyard; instead she should be concerned about raising a 1-year-old in a better place than a run-down community, behind a row of Greek organizations,” a student named “Margie” said.

This self-righteous attitude has been brewing within the student body since the early 1990s, when Temple opted to turn itself into both an urban and suburban university, professing and housing a larger number of students each year who live farther outside of the university’s boundaries.

Ultimately, this combination of privileged
and underprivileged groups created a culture clash, which we see exploding today. Suburban Temple students are unfamiliar with the dilapidated political, economic and social structures of North Philadelphia that cast its residents into extreme poverty.

In 1999, of those living in the zip code 19122, 7,360 were below the poverty line, according to the Census Bureau. In 2000, the median household income was only $18,395, and of the 19,902 people ages 25 and up, only 10,926 had a high school diploma and 866 had a bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, Temple students pay $9,640 for in-state and $17,236 for out-of-state tuition and fees.

“All of a sudden, [suburban students] find themselves in a very alienated situation, surrounded by people they don’t understand.
In terms of ideology, these people are failures for having a child out of wedlock,” a Temple professor, who wished to remain off the record, said.

“There’s the idea of utilitarianism … if you found yourself in poverty, it was your fault.”

As Temple increases its number of suburban-grown undergrads, these students bring this overwhelming political, social and economic greenness with them, damning our reputation as a community-friendly school. This greenness, and overall disrespect for our neighbors can be seen through community complaints, such as the complaints of this fraternity concerning ‘ridiculous’ behavior.

This disruptive behavior reflects the Temple student ‘we pay more to live here than you do, so we do what we want,’ mentality.

Students have placed themselves above our neighbors, based on the fact that they pay more to attend Temple than some community
members earn each year.

To diminish this mentality, students can acknowledge the growing social barrier between themselves and the off-campus community and check out Temple’s community service program. With more volunteers, the program could pursue a larger number of causes in the local community and help decrease the gap between student and non-student residents.

This is important to consider because while we are merely guests for four or five years, residents continue living here. It’s about time we show some respect.

Jill Bauer can be reached at jilleeun@temple.edu.

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