A new year brings new issues, as well as some old ones with fresh angles.
Housing on campus is a hot topic, especially as we face another increase in university enrollment. It is up to President Ann Weaver Hart to decide the future of on-campus housing.
The logical solution to accommodate Temple’s burgeoning enrollment would be to build more on-campus housing facilities, more homes for the 4,300 members of the Class of 2011, a class six percent larger than last year’s group. However, President Hart is reluctant to lead the university in that direction.
“I believe that the best use of the university’s limited resources is to focus on teaching, research and student life, and to partner with the private sector to provide student housing,” President Hart said. President Hart also expressed the importance of private investors, such as those affiliated with Oxford Village, University Village, Kardon-Atlantic Terminal, and Elmira Jeffries.
While President Hart’s dedication to providing a quality education is admirable,
it may not be enough to keep students satisfied. The thrill of finishing
a paper at 3A.M. in the TECH Center isn’t so glamorous when you have to walk six or seven blocks back to a 2-bedroom apartment that houses four people and costs more than $2000 a month. With all the construction work being done around campus, it is a wonder why none of the jack hammering, drilling and street closing will result in a new residential facility.
According to President Hart, almost 10,000 students currently live on or near main campus. Yet, close to 40,000 students are enrolled. Private housing may be convenient for those who aren’t from the Philadelphia area, but there still isn’t enough of it to go around. Many students spread out across the city looking for housing, often ending up in West or South Philadelphia and other affordable areas, leaving them with a daily commute through the congested city. Others choose to live with their families and face the 15 to 20 minute commute over the inflated real-estate prices.
More problems may arise next fall when the Tyler School of Art makes its way to main campus, bringing its 1,500 students to the neighborhood. If the persistent rumors of a Temple Towers demolition/renovation prove to be true, finding a place to live will be as frustrating as ordering lunch at the deli in the SAC.
Despite the lack of options, it would seem President Hart has no plans for more on-campus housing. Former Temple President David Adamany, who was replaced by Hart in July of 2006, would be pleased. In a 2005 interview with The Temple News, Adamany spoke openly about his feelings regarding availability for student living, speaking directly as was his custom.
“I don’t feel any responsibility for housing,” he said. Adamany was not often considered widely popular among students and staff, so President Hart’s similar views on housing could have an interesting impact on her reign at Temple. Though her devotion to education deserves the utmost respect, the housing crisis should not be ignored.
Undeveloped land around campus is sparse, but students would be better served if the university built new residential facilities rather than allowing private investors to do so. If buildings such as The Edge at Avenue North had been Temple investments there would be more affordable dorms and apartments to go around. And they would most likely be finished on the inside.
Although Temple students should consider themselves fortunate to attend a university where devotion to the overall welfare of its students is high, the need for on-campus housing is fast becoming a priority. The changes that take place on main campus in the coming years should be very interesting as students pour in, technology increases, and housing remains stagnant.
Temple’s urban atmosphere may draw students in, but the lack of housing choices may not be enough to keep them coming back
Shannon McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.