Temple Student Government hosted its first town hall of the semester Monday evening to discuss campus safety improvements and strategies for Temple students and the surrounding community.
Students who attended the hour-long event at Temple Performing Arts Center heard from Student Body President Gianni Quattrocchi, Jennifer Griffin, vice president of public safety, and Temple President Jason Wingard.
The three speakers highlighted recent campus safety initiatives for the spring semester, like reviewing more than 1,000 cameras, improving lighting in certain areas and making changes to the TUalert system.
Quattrocchi spent the latter half of the town hall relaying pre-recorded questions from students about safety communications, pedestrian safety and community relation to Griffin and Wingard.
While answering student questions, Wingard asked Quattrocchi, as a representative of the student body, if students felt like they were safe on campus.
“I understand that a lot of you are angry,” Quattrocchi said to students in attendance.“I’m angry too. I think there is an obscene number of incidents taking place against students and whether it’s on campus or outside of the patrol zone, it shouldn’t happen. But I think what ultimately needs to be done is that there needs to be extensive communication surrounding these safety services.”
“Some people have asked me, ‘Why are you doing this, just to prove that it’s safe?’” Wingard said. “But that’s not the case, I’ve been here for a year and a half and this was the intention for me to be able to move to campus from the very beginning.”
TSG will host another campus safety town hall on Feb. 2, Quattrocchi said.
Here’s what was discussed at the town hall meeting.
Recent Safety Announcements
Griffin and Wingard reviewed new campus safety audits recommended by the Violence Reduction Task Force that took place during break, including that of 1,300 cameras around campus.
The university has identified areas that need to have cameras, as well as cameras that need to be replaced, which will be an ongoing effort, Griffin said.
“As soon as you get a new cell phone within six months, it’s already outdated,” Griffin said. “Cameras and technology are the same thing, it’s a constant process.”
Campus Safety has also improved lighting in high traffic areas, and Griffin advised students to contact the university if they notice an area with weaker lighting.
Griffin emphasized current efforts to make students aware of potential campus safety situations, including an update to TUalerts, the creation of advisory committees and an updated Campus Safety Services website.
The university will also hire a director of messaging and communications who will be tasked with communicating safety messages through mediums like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Long-Term Community Efforts
Wingard was asked about the long-term challenges that Temple faces in addressing public safety, citing nationwide trends of gun violence, mental health issues and joblessness.
“We have to form more partnerships because it’s a systemic problem that requires a lot of partnership, a lot of interactive groups working together in order to be able to solve it,” Wingard said. “We can’t just do it as an academic institution.”
One student asked Wingard what policies Temple was pursuing beyond traditional policing practices in North Philadelphia, and how the university was approaching maintaining a safe off campus environment in partnership with the surrounding community.
“We are about 60,000 people in this ecosystem,” Wingard said. “So that means we are a city within a city and the resources that we have as a university have allowed us to be able to partner with, provide resources to, a community in a whole other way.”
Wingard cited health care resources, education for GED training and providing holiday meals as efforts that the university has made to build a relationship with the community.
Transportation and Traffic Safety
When asked by a student about the university’s plan for commuter student safety, Griffin said that Campus Safety Services is working on pushing messages later in the semester about how students can ride safely on SEPTA’s Regional Rail.
Temple is also working with SEPTA Police and the City of Philadelphia to alert students when a safety concern is present on or around campus, Griffin added.
Another student asked about policies to ensure pedestrian safety along roadways. Griffin responded that police are actively patrolling areas, like Broad Street, and ticketing drivers who commit traffic violations.
Griffin also added that the university partners with the Philadelphia Police Department to make sure traffic teams are enforcing traffic laws and that pedestrians are educated about staying in crosswalks and adhering to traffic guidelines.
Griffin reminded students about available resources for staying safe, including the RAVE Temple Guardian App, FLIGHT and the walking escort, which Griffin said can be operated virtually from the app if a student is not comfortable walking with an officer.
Campus Safety performed 1,222 walking escorts in 2022 and urged students to continue using the service, Griffin said.
She also highlighted the Best Nest program, which was launched in November 2022, and uses a two-tiered system to help students make informed decisions about off-campus housing.