Temple has no rich activist heritage. There have been tremors to the contrary. Many of late. Last Wednesday, there was another.
As reported on this edition’s front page, Temple’s Black Student Union joined with the Students for a Democratic Society, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Student Labor Action Project to offer students and faculty what they called “DISorientation,” sessions discussing the varied social complaints they have with Temple’s administration and institutional policies.
We applaud the now-labeled Progressive Student Coalition for thinking critically about Temple’s administration and their initiatives. That said, their criticisms seem largely uninformed and so their announced demands will likely remain unanswered.
Primarily, they asked Temple to do more for the community. As students, it is our responsibility to make certain our university treats its neighbors with respect. In that vein alone, the Progressive Student Coalition is valuable. But Temple does more for this community than any of us likely understand.
Find John McNamee in the St. Malachy Catholic School at 11th and Master streets, he’ll tell you. Find Kumani Gantt in the Village of Arts and Humanities at Alder Street and Germantown Avenue, she’ll tell you. Go to Tree House Books at Carlisle Street and Susquehanna Avenue. Speak to the community groups of Yorktown or Tioga. They’ll probably tell you, too.
It is so easy to say a giant business in the midst of a troubled neighborhood isn’t doing enough to help, particularly when that business is doing awfully well. But when do social problems cease to be Temple’s fault?
The subject of gentrification is always an awfully troubling one. When urban development becomes gentrification is a difficult line to draw. Still, it is lazy and disingenuous to suggest Temple has thrown people out of their homes. Market prices rise with increased safety, services and transportation. Temple has improved them all. Hooter has never put an eviction notice on a rowhome. There are a great many more deserving parties for demonizing than Temple.
Another demand had more merit. They asked Temple refocus its understanding of its diversity. This is a fine criticism, particularly related to university faculty. On Oct. 16, The Temple News reported on a huge hiring push that gave this school some 60 new faculty members from top institutions throughout the world. Unquestionably the credentials of these new staff members are impressive. Still, they were a decidedly white, male group. Temple: student standards are getting higher by the day. There are further qualifications for the researchers, instructors and personnel you take on staff.
We hope the Progressive Student Coalition continues and expands its critical evaluation of Temple. Still, it is very apparent they need to more closely evaluate this university’s place in the community.