Rally: ‘Hey-ho, student debt has got to go’

Though only a handful of students made it to yesterday’s impromptu rally against the impending tuition hike, their protests of the threatened tuition increase were loud and clear.

Students like Tracy Rossi gathered at the Student Center on Thursday to protest a state bill that would strip Temple of $175 million dollars (Anna Zhilkova/Temple News).

Students gathered and rallied yesterday in protest of a state representative’s threats to cut some $175 million in funding to Temple, leading to a possible $5,000 per year tuition increase.

Organizers garnered the support of hundreds of students via various methods and social networking outlets, including e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. Though more than 400 students responded via Facebook that they’d attend the rally, approximately 20 students showed for the planned three-mile march to state Rep. John Taylor’s (R) office at Thompson and Cambria streets in Port Richmond.

In spite of the low turnout, reporters from Philadelphia media outlets lined up outside the Student Center, hoping to gain insight from the students on how they would be affected.

Jon Borowski, a 2008 criminal justice and political science graduate, organized the rally through a blog called “Save Temple Students,” a “SaveTemple” Twitter account and a Facebook event page.

The initial plan was for students to meet at the Student Center then march to state Rep. Taylor’s office. Because of the low turnout, the march turned into a rally outside the center. By 2:45 p.m., the small crowd dispersed, leaving the sidewalks empty of voices speaking out and filled with students going to summer classes and potential freshman and their families touring the university.

“To be honest, this [rally] was a big let down,” Borowski said, “I didn’t expect much of a turnout because of the summer and short notice, but I was hoping more students would come.”

Of the handful of students that showed, all were angry and were empowered with enough energy and fierce spirit to represent the Temple student body in its entirety. As crowds of incoming and current students walked by the Student Center entrance, they shouted out about the incident and yelled chants such as “not tuition, raise your voices,” and “hey, hey, ho, ho, student debt has got to go.”

The possibility of losing $175 million from the Commonwealth appropriations that Temple University has been counting on for state funding for the 2009-2010 school year could mean an increase of $5,000 in tuition for undergraduate students.

“$5,000 a year means I have to work more and harder, and possibly cut back to being a part-time student,” junior vocal performance major Shauna Howard said.

Many students echoed Howard’s sentiment.

Junior secondary education and English major Tracy Rossi said, “We just went through a 125th anniversary and so far we’ve had [professors’] contracts go unsettled, and now we’re dealing with this.”

A group of student workers from the Honors Program heard about the rally today, and said they were disappointed to see the lack of students in attendance. Still, they took time from helping incoming students select courses to show their support.

“The appeal of Temple is that it has the same quality education as a private institution without the high costs, and raising tuition is going to take that appeal aid away,” Lindsey Bitler, an Honors Program student worker and sophomore broadcast, telecommunications and mass media major said.

State Rep. Taylor, who represents the district where Northeastern Hospital was closed, said he welcomes and encourages students to get involved in the matter but finds the action premature.

“I don’t think anything is affecting anybody at this point,” Taylor said, “I think that their upsetment [sic] should be directed at [Temple’s] administration.”

The potential to pull Temple’s funding came from the administration’s decision to close Northeastern Hospital.

“We have to get [the administration’s] attention. Why did we do what we did? Because it worked,” he said. “[Temple University] has the potential to lose every dime.”

And when it comes to students facing tuitions hikes while also living in the communities that have been affected by the closing hospital, they are just going to “have to deal with it,” Taylor said.

He stressed in his phone interview that the reason Temple chose to close Northeastern Hospital was because the administration doesn’t make money off of the poor.

“The incredible thing is they didn’t want to continue a hospital there because their ‘pay mix’ was not good. ‘Pay mix’ is another term for they don’t want to serve the poor,” he said, “They wouldn’t dare [close] Temple University Hospital, and that’s just as unprofitable as Northeastern Hospital was.”

Temple students should be scrutinizing the university’s administration’s actions rather than blaming state officials, Taylor said.

“I think that the university is certainly trying to initiate a negative response to what I’m doing to deflect the real issue,” he said, “which is the university’s complete disregard of the care of a large section of Philadelphia that they have previously cared for.”

In order to secure funding from the state, all public institutions, not just Temple, are accountable to the taxpayers and residents of Philadelphia, he said, adding that institutions have the responsibility to provide for the taxpayers who play a role in its funding.

Kristi Herrera, a sophomore psychology and business major and student worker from the Honors Program, pointed out that the increase won’t just hurt Temple.

“It will also hurt the city as well, because of the large number of students having to transfer to cheaper universities,” she said.

While the official vote on the appropriations has not been made, students, parents and alumni are up in arms as to the possibility of an increase in tuition. With the current economic crisis still headlining broadcast news and papers, a tuition hike could have devastating results to those attending Temple University.

Borowski recognized that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of students could potentially be displaced if Temple is forced to enact the 45 percent tuition increase

“It sucks that the state reps are holding $175 million hostage over 25,000 students’ heads given the economic situation we’re facing.”

Amanda Fries and Josh Fernandez can be reached at news@temple-news.com.


  1. YOU should have advertised the protest better because if I had known, I would have went. Several other Temple students I know would have went also!

  2. State Representative John Taylor, a Republican, has given his own political party a sock in the eye, and the bruise is visible from way out here on the West Coast.

    I attended Temple from out-of-state, because of the nine top-notch universities to which I had applied and was admitted, Temple offered to provide me with the best education at the best price. My daughter is now attending Temple from out-of-state for exactly the same reason.

    When I was at Temple, my undergraduate and graduate education remained affordable because Temple operated in a fiscally responsible manner. I expected my daughter’s Temple education to remain affordable, as well, even during a harsh economy created and perpetuated by Wall Street’s, Main Street’s, and Pennsylvania Avenue’s fiscally irresponsible practices and policies. Broad Street, however, continued to manage its money wisely, and therefore, recently, was able to announce an historic low 2.9% tuition increase at the same time public and private universities of comparable size and stature were announcing tuition increases of 10% to 40% or higher.

    Temple’s decision to close financially-draining Northeastern Hospital reflects Temple’s continued commitment to fiscal responsibility, as well as its commitment to providing students with a world-class education at an affordable price. I would reasonably expect Pennsylvania’s Republicans to look favorably upon Temple’s cost-cutting move; instead, John Taylor has abandoned his party’s principles, and seeks to punish Temple for adhering to the principles upon which it was founded.

    Temple University is integral to Philadelphia. I have often told my daughter that if the weed-covered school across town ever went out of business, Philadelphia would adjust to its absence, but if Temple shut its doors, Philadelphia would shut down, too. Temple must receive the state and federal funding it needs to continue functioning as Philadelphia’s most valuable resource. Rep. Taylor is endangering not only Temple and its students, but also Philadelphia and all of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the Republican Party’s reputation, and his own political future. If Rep. Taylor succeeds in “winning” his dispute with Temple by blocking Temple’s funding, then there will be millions of losers, and come re-election time, Rep. Taylor will be among them.

    C.J. (Fisher) Beeman, Temple ’75

  3. “$5,000 a year means I have to work more and harder, and possibly cut back to being a part-time student,” junior vocal performance major Shauna Howard said.

    What a ugly portrait of self entitlement… welcome to the real world, where you have to work hard and more just to get by. Deal with it.

  4. This was a very well written article. Keep at it!
    It’s people like Josh Fernandez and Amanda Fries that make things happen.
    Unlike alot of people, they are “action” not all talk.

  5. Shouldn’t have closed the hospital Temple… I’m glad the students are so proud of their school, lol. Perhaps we should all be protesting the Board of Directors 😉

  6. Temple is a ripoff. Subsidies lead to surplus of students coming to Temple without having to pay the real cost of their education. Likewise, it stops Temple from having to keep a ‘tight ship’. Instead we have piss-poor professors who don’t care about teaching but only about research, layers and layers of needless administration, god-awful advising, wastes of space security guards, and worthless degrees.

    How do you get a Temple grad off your front porch?

    Give him the Pizza money

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