After President Richard Englert told students and faculty during the State of the University Address on Thursday that the university would still pursue the possibility of building an on-campus stadium, Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes voiced his opposition on his personal Twitter account.
“I do not support the construction of a stadium in the middle of a predominantly black and brown residential community,” he tweeted after the address.
“I am speaking on behalf of myself,” Mann-Barnes told The Temple News. “What’s on our platform is the stance of Temple Student Government as a whole.”
TSG’s platform opposes “any plans for a stadium that negatively impacts the community.”
Mann-Barnes said he stands by the personal statements he made on Twitter and is deciding how to get feedback from students who are for or against a stadium.
TSG is considering sending out a stadium survey to students, similar to the one sent out by the Temple Association of University Professionals on Sept. 22.
“We’re trying to figure out how to make [the survey] reach as far and wide as possible so we reach students with all different perspectives,” Mann-Barnes said.
He will also advocate on behalf of students and community members to the Board of Trustees, he said.
“As a student, I represent students, and as a person who was born in North Philadelphia…I can say that I can definitely go and speak to community members and students and be prepared enough to walk into that space with the necessary tools to advocate for the perspective of both sides,” he said.
An official statement from TSG hasn’t been released yet because “there are so many other things that happened and this wasn’t even on our radar until Thursday,” he added.
A stadium that positively impacts the community is one that “isn’t built in a residential, predominantly black and brown community,” Mann-Barnes said.
During both debates leading up to last year’s Executive Branch elections, Mann-Barnes’ ticket Activate TU opposed the stadium, stating that the university should not say it cares about the community while planning a stadium that could “displace” residents.
“The administration may very well be speaking to community members, but from the ones I’ve spoken to, I don’t think that’s evident,” Mann-Barnes told The Temple News. “I think it’s going to be really important to…be sure that we’re making a very conscious decision of realizing all of the factors that will go into play in this over a long period of time.”
In the address, Englert said the goal is to create a “multipurpose facility” that would have “benefits for our neighbors as well as students,” and later told The Temple News that the university has “multiple” feasibility studies in progress.
Temple approved a $1.25 million feasibility study to create renderings of a potential 35,000-seat stadium in February 2016 with Ohio-based architecture firm Moody Nolan. A year later, a Moody Nolan representative told The Temple News that the study was “on hold.”
Mann-Barnes said TSG hasn’t spoken to the administration about the stadium since the summer, but was not aware that “it was something that was going to come up as soon as it did.”
“In the future we’ll definitely be more proactive about engaging in those conversations with much more intention and purpose,” he added.
After Thursday’s address, Mann-Barnes tweeted “Down with the stadium, up with the community” in response to an article from The Temple News about the university’s continuing pursuit of the stadium.
This phrase shares the sentiment of the Stadium Stompers, an activist group of students, faculty and community residents who oppose an on-campus stadium.
TSG is “not opposed” to working with anyone who “clearly has a stake [in this decision] enough to make a point about it” like the Stadium Stompers, Mann-Barnes said. He added that he used to attend Stadium Stompers meetings.
“That is my belief, that we need to be more intentional about including the community,” he added.