Anthony Torres has a plan to help build the relationship between Temple students and local residents.
Starting on Oct. 27, Torres’ new program called Adopt-a-Block will assign student organizations to a specific block in the community, for which the organization is mandated to clean at least once a month.
Torres, Temple Student Government director of the local and community affairs committee, in conjunction with Campus Safety Services Capt. Eileen Bradley and CSS External Relations Coordinator Monica Hankins, created this program to address complaints in the community.
“I meet with local residents that have been here for years and they complain about Temple students and their parties, the trash they leave, and how they don’t take care of the property,” Torres said. “We are trying to do something for them to see that Temple University does a lot.”
Nearly 20 student organizations have expressed interest in the program, including the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
“Since a lot of the organizations live around here it makes sense to give back to the neighborhood we’re in,” Julie Furdella, a senior psychology major and vice president of community service for NSCS, said.
Torres, Bradley and Hankins said they never expected the program to create as much interest from student organizations.
“You get the flavor that students really want to give back to the community,” Bradley said.
However, Adopt-a-Block is designed to address a much bigger problem in the community: the relationship between Temple students and local residents.
Block captain of the 2000 block of North 15th Street Estelle Wilson has lived in the area for more than 60 years and experienced first-hand the evolution of the neighborhood.
“I’ve seen the good times. When I first moved here it was very nice,” Wilson said. “I have seen some changes that I don’t like and we’ve had some drastic changes since more students have moved into communities with the developers.”
The three major points where Bradley and Wilson said they believe the community relationship lacks are education, communication and respect.
“Most of the issues with the students is trash and I think that is just a matter of education. The students move here and they don’t know all the rules and regulations,” Bradley said.
Wilson agreed, but also attributed the students’ apathy to the problem.
“People are young and a lot of them have never lived on their own, a lot have come from suburban areas and are not accustomed to living in the city and they try to do things they would normally do at home and that’s where the problem comes in,” Wilson said. “We have to find a way that we can get along, that we can respect each other because respect goes a long way in life. And that is one of the things that is lost. Young people are going to be young, but when you have no respect for the community that’s where the problem comes in.”
Building a stronger sense of community will not only aid in the appearance of the community, but will help to diminish the attitude of “us against them” that students and residents embody, Bradley said.
“This way it is just like a little town, where they look out for each other too because they know each other,” Bradley said.
Right now, it is uncertain if the Adopt-a-Block program will help or hinder the relationship between students and residents, but Torres, Bradley and Wilson believe there is nothing to do but try.
“I think it is definitely a step in the right direction, but I don’t know if it will necessarily solve all of our problems,” Furdella said. “It will definitely get people talking, especially if everyone commits and really goes out at the same time.”
Laura Detter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.