Like many freshmen, I’ve thought about living off campus next year. It would be a chance to be independent and to learn to live as the adults we’re constantly told to act like.
If new legislation proposed by the Philadelphia City Council goes through, however, that plan will have to change.
The legislation, which was proposed by Philadelphia Council President Darrell L. Clarke, would restrict off-campus living arrangements for students at Temple and punish landlords severely for the behavior of student tenants.
Clarke’s legislation would require students to notify Temple where they live off campus, if they have a vehicle and of any citations received. The proposed legislation would also require an “adult supervisor,” someone over the age of 21, to live in the housing with the students. Landlords and supervisors would face harsh penalties if the residents of the apartment rack up citations and cause problems.
If enacted, the legislation would mark the housing around Temple as an “educational housing district,” similar to the community surrounding St. Joseph’s and La Salle universities.
Clarke told the Philadelphia Daily News the proposal stems from tensions between Temple students and the residents of the community.
“Every weekend, there are parties, noise and public urination, and people are waking up to find beer bottles,” Clarke told the publication.
The problem is, the wrong people are being targeted in this legislation. Why are supervisors and landlords being expected to bear the brunt of students’ judgment, or lack thereof?
“We have no control over the tenants’ behavior and the city would not let us evict a tenant based on their party habits,” said Michael Petrikowski, a landlord for Blackstone Development, which owns many properties in the Temple area. “The bill makes no sense and if it would pass, we [landlords] would fight it all the way to the Supreme Court.”
While it may be borne of good intentions, the new proposal seems like a misguided attempt to appease the members of the community in the short term with no thought to the long-term effects of such a bill.
Estelle Wilson, block captain for the 2000 block of North 15th Street, said students and their guests can act destructively over the short periods of time in which they pass through the area.
Before homecoming weekend, students received multiple emails reminding them of expectations to represent the university and their responsibility for guest behavior.
Wilson said that even with these warnings, students destroyed community residents’ flowers, urinated in their yards and were incredibly loud early into the morning. The Temple News reported that Charlie Leone, Executive Director of Campus Safety Services, dealt with a party involving approximately 1,000 students, as well as various other parties throughout the community.
“Something needs to be done about it,” Wilson said.
Wilson is right – but the wrong people will bear the negative consequences if the currently proposed bill is the action the city takes.
Students are also turned off by the proposed legislation.
“Knowing [the corrupt nature of this policy] would probably sway me toward not living off campus,” said Alex Lewis, a freshman physics major.
Housing for upperclassmen in residence halls like Morgan Hall can reach the equivalent of nearly $1,000 per month. For responsible students, it is easier to live in an apartment where rent is significantly lower than to pay the astronomical prices of residence halls after one’s first year.
“[Clarke] knows that the vast majority of Temple students who live off campus and their landlords are good neighbors,” Jane Roh, Clarke’s director of communications, told The Temple News previously.
If Clarke indeed recognizes that the majority of students are just trying to save money by living near Temple instead of in a residence hall, then the proposition of such a restrictive bill seems even more counterintuitive.
The legislation proposed by Clarke is well intended but does nothing in the way of allowing responsible students to continue to grow into responsible adults.
If college is supposed to be a time of growth and maturing for students before they enter the real world, then students must be allowed to act like adults, including learning to handle the consequences of their decisions.
Instead of babying the students and their guests, it’s time for Temple to attack the problem at its root – by more severely punishing those who break the rules. They are clearly outlined to us many times through emails and orientation lectures. Students have no reason not to know the rules and Temple has no reason not to enforce them.
This sentiment exists among landlords too.
“I’d like to see a bill passed where students and their co-signers are penalized for their actions. The university should expel them,” Petriowsky said.
Landlords and responsible students aren’t denying the necessity of change – we just want to see it happen in the right way.
Vince Bellino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @VinceTNF