Disappointing Dialogue

Both university administrators and protesters need to take constructive steps to generate productive dialogue about the stadium proposal.

Since the stadium proposal emerged in October 2015, our staff has reported on community concerns, administration plans, student feedback and given historical context.

At December’s Board of Trustees meeting, we saw protesters at Sullivan Hall met by university police officers and barricades.

The small number of protesters allowed in the meeting–who quietly waited until the meeting was over to begin their demonstration–saw their concerns fall upon deaf ears. The group of five, consisting of four community members and one student, was the elephant in the room, the recipient of a handful of smirks and uncomfortable looks, but not much else.

We hoped yesterday’s open forum for students would foster better dialogue between students, community members and university administrators, but we were left with the same concerns from both sides of the spectrum.

In our initial reporting, Temple Student Government told the Temple News an “overflow” problem was the reasoning behind its decision to bar community members from the open forum between athletic director Pat Kraft and President Theobald.

Student Body President Ryan Rinaldi told a member of our staff that TSG “represents the student body only.” But following the Board meeting on Dec. 12, 2015, Rinaldi told The Temple News he was talking with university administrators daily about concerns community members communicated to him.

It’s a good thing Rinaldi is speaking on behalf of the community, but skirting that responsibility during the public forum is not a productive step in fostering a strong dialogue between administrators and community members.

President Theobald told The Temple News in November the university was just starting its community outreach, but we have yet to find a local resident who has heard from a university representative, including Will Mundy, the block captain on Page Street west of 16th who lives within spitting distance of the area in jeopardy.

Our concerns don’t stop with the university, though. There are many strides the protesters can take in order to make constructive dialogue more feasible.

Outside the Board of Trustees’ meeting, protesters passed out fliers with incorrect information on them, addressing issues that lost focus on the stadium—namely police brutality and minimum wage. Some protesters outside of the meeting aggressively pushed against fences.

During the forum, protesters again brought up issues of minimum wage and used profanity toward both administrators.

By losing focus, making mistakes, appearing disorganized or becoming physically aggressive or profane, the protesters eradicate voices they are attempting to validate.

The university should take protesters seriously, but those voices need to have a focus first. Whether they believe a higher minimum wage and police brutality is related to the stadium or not, the university administrators aren’t interested in that discussion when the topic of the stadium is at hand.

If this stadium construction is to be a compromising, beneficial step for the university and its surrounding community, an open, constructive dialogue is critical. To restore order there needs to be progressive steps made by all sides.

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