Are the kids finally all right? Has the administration made the student body happy by offering solutions to housing problems?
The answer is a resounding, “Yeah, sorta.”
It is safe to say that last week Temple students were angry. An impromptu protest scheduled outside Sullivan Hall last week was turned into a staff and student question and answer session by quick administrative response, and students’ reactions were not mixed.
“They just basically went around the subject, they didn’t answer our questions, they didn’t give any solutions, they didn’t help anybody,” said Kiere Story, a rising sophomore, after the meeting.
“If they actually cared about the students this would have never happened,” said another rising sophomore, Al Hermantin. “They’re building a Gap, look at the neighborhood we live in, who the hell shops at the Gap?”
Angry and confused, after the first aborted protest, many students still didn’t know where they would be living in the fall.
If the administration was surprised by the first assemblage, then the second definitely caught them off guard.
Students, saying they didn’t feel like they were getting the answers they wanted from Temple, met at the Bell Tower.
A large, and angry group of students marched to Broad Street, attracting police and news reporters alike. From there, the crowd moved onto Sullivan Hall chanting, “we want housing!”
Jim Fitzsimmons, Dean of Students, said that the protest was a dramatic statement of the students’ concerns.
“Well, I’m sure it’s highlighting their concern, students probably want to make sure that their voice is heard, so this will certainly help them underscore their concern about the housing shortage on Main Campus, ” said Fitzsimmons.
From Sullivan Hall, students crowded onto the center of Broad Street at the Berks Mall intersection , and successfully blocked two lanes of traffic.
By Friday of last week, three different flyers were being distributed by the administration concerning housing.
Among the most significant news: 100 additional apartments had been secured at the Presidential City Apartments site and 138 bed spaces were opened on Main Campus.
Also, the sophomore lottery, administration said, would be started over again with each student retaining their original number. Many rising sophomores had not been guaranteed housing, and protest among that class was loudest.
After the sophomore lottery is completed, the housing process for upperclassmen on the waiting list will begin starting with juniors and then seniors.
Regina S. Rousso Wilmes, director of University Housing, said the new sophomore lottery should guarantee all second year students housing in the fall.
“If they [sophomores] paid their housing deposit, there weren’t any financial faults…there are enough spaces that they should be able to pick up a housing assignment,” said Wilmes.
The 138 new bed spaces available on campus are located in both Temple Towers and New Residence Hall. Housing had originally allocated these beds to transfer fall transfer students.
Also, officials also said that students who live off-campus now will have the option of moving on campus next fall when additional housing becomes available due to drop-out students and `no shows’. Housing was originally not available to current commuters for the fall semester.
Students on the waiting list will then be allowed the off-campus openings.
Franklin House and Presidential City pricing is equal to their on-campus counterparts: apartments at Presidential City costs the same as those at Temple Towers, while Franklin House pricing is the same as on campus suites.
For these off-campus spots, Temple will provide basic cable and a shuttle system to and from campus. Students at these locations, however, will not be on Temple’s online network and phone system.
“I’m not really happy with it, but at least I can deal with this `cause they are at least trying…I do feel a bit better that I’m going to have some kind of Temple residency next year,” Hermantin said.
So just how much did protesting help lead to the housing changes?
“It motivated them to act faster, it let them know the students were a bit more concerned than Housing was, obviously, with making sure something gets done,” said a Residence Assistant, who requested their name be withheld.