Final Call

Looking forward, The Temple News has some questions and advice.

Looking forward, The Temple News has some questions and advice.

This is the last issue of The Temple News for the 2009-2010 academic year, and for many students, it’s the last week of their Temple careers. We are saying goodbye, and leaving a little advice behind – along with a request for some advice from our readers.

There has been too much contention at Temple in the last few years. While healthy debate and criticism are crucial, Temple’s administration has gone head-to-head with its labor force repeatedly since President Ann Weaver Hart’s tenure. The unions bear responsibility as well, but there is no reason strikes or near-strikes should occur so often. Some initiatives are worth fighting for, but items like the “gag clause” in the nurse’s union contract are ridiculous and unnecessary, even if Temple University Hospital is considered a separate entity.

The slow but significant exodus of administrators from Temple is also a cause for concern. Of course, Temple employees are free to go wherever they want, and the president cannot and should not force them to stay. But it’s worth noting the multitude of high-profile departures among Temple’s administration as of late.

Former Dean of Students Ainsley Carry and the very recent departure of Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico are two notable examples. The provost spent much of her three years at Temple carving out the new Academic Compass initiative but will not be here to see it through. The Temple News considers the initiative to be positive for the most part, but we worry about its implementation without Staiano-Coico. Most students would not consider Temple an organized university, and it would be a shame to see Staiano-Coico’s hard work fray at the edges because of an unsmooth transition between provosts.

Theresa Powell, Temple’s Vice President for Student Affairs and the person who hired Carry at Temple, applied for a position at the University of Kentucky. She was not hired and remains at Temple, but for how long? Powell is an effective vice president and a presence on Main Campus. Losing Powell would be a mistake. Temple doesn’t always necessarily have to fight other universities for students, but it may have to for worthwhile employees.

Last and perhaps most important is transparency: The university should open up about the allotment of the General Activities Fee. It’s indefensible that a state-related school backed by millions of taxpayer dollars will not make public the destination of a significant fee charged to each student.

The student body at Temple is hard-working, motivated and diverse. Unfortunately, all the ambition put toward succeeding in school and at a part- and full-time job detracts from the cohesion of the student body at Temple, which hurts students most. Cohesion would allow the student body to more effectively advocate for policies and practices that benefit us.

It would also decrease the occasional apathy on Main Campus. Too many students think they are the only ones who care about a particular cause or interest at Temple, and not enough students band together to raise awareness or take action.

Part of this responsibility falls to student leaders as well. Too often, Temple Student Government too closely resembles a real government. With a youthful population to govern, TSG needs to put more effort into connecting to its constituents, some of whom don’t feel their representatives are actively working for them. TSG members put an enormous amount of time and energy into their work, but there are too many groups and individuals not actively engaged in the process.

Take bold positions. A candidate for Penn State’s student government began a campaign to lower tuition by $10,000, through investments, government aid and efficiency. Is he likely to succeed? Perhaps not, but it certainly gets students’ attention, and a similar campaign could create pressure to keep tuition low, even if its stated goal is never achieved.

The most important thing we could say to our fellow students is this: Make the most of your time here. Get involved in a club, even if you’re not sure you’ll like it. Write a letter to President Hart, and ask her about something you don’t understand at this university. Venture out into Philadelphia, and find a neighborhood you didn’t know existed. Get to know your professors, even if they are intimidating. Some of the world’s most knowledgeable people work at Temple, and most of them want to help you.

The Temple News tries to be the best news source about Temple, and there is nothing we enjoy more than scooping the Philadelphia Inquirer or Daily News on a Temple-related story. But we make mistakes sometimes, and that jeopardizes our readers’ trust. At times this year, we have not been meticulous enough, and for that, we apologize. In the future, we will do everything to ensure our coverage is fair and accurate, not sloppy.

As we elaborated on in an earlier editorial, we are proud of our LGBTQ coverage. But that does not mean we are not interested in everything else that is going on at Temple. If there is something you think Main Campus should know about, or an under-reported phenomenon, please don’t hesitate to badger us about it. We want to write about the Temple you see, and if we aren’t doing that, please let us know.

As we continue to cover Temple, we hope you’ll come back to us next year. Have a safe summer.

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