As a group of dancers began to perform for the Homecoming Parade in front of the Bell Tower, the Stadium Stompers walked down Liacouras Walk, toward a pep rally at the Bell Tower, holding a large banner that read “Down With The Stadium.”
The group, made up of students and community members, chanted, “Temple Made, Gentrification” and “No new stadium in our community,” causing surrounding Temple students to become confused. Some students began to yell profanities and tried to get in the way of the activist group.
Police officers both on foot and on bicycles stood nearby, prepared to block the protest if necessary.
“We were aware of the protest and had a heads up,” said Ed Woltemate, captain of the Investigations Unit for Temple Police.
The officers’ presence did not quell the crowd which began to increase its negative reaction towards the Stadium Stompers.
“This is not the time for it, this is our Homecoming,” said Terri Harris, a 54-year-old alumna. “I come to every Homecoming game. This is upsetting and they shouldn’t be doing this.”
The Stadium Stompers stood in front of the DJ booth at the base of the Bell Tower while continuing to chant and hand out flyers. Students ripped them in front of the protesters. Others argued with the members and were stopped by police officers from blocking the protest.
The music blasted even louder as the next round of dancers came out for the pep rally.
“I was a little upset because I felt bad for the groups performing at the time,” said Taylor Howett, a junior and early childhood development and special education major. She and Janie Klein, a junior education major, drove the golf cart for Best Buddies, an organization that helps people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities get integrated employment or leadership positions.
“Since we are in a student organization, we support the others here today,” Howett said. “I was disappointed they came during our Homecoming celebration.”
The Stadium Stompers began their protest just after the judging of the golf carts commenced.
“Overall, I just think it was a very inappropriate event [to protest at],” Klein said. “We’re coming together as a student body to be happy and enjoy our homecoming and it was just disrespectful.”
“I think that their protest is valid, but I don’t really have a stance [on the stadium],” Howett said. “I understand that it would have a great effect on the community around us. I do believe that their voices are not always heard and they need to be respected.”
Most students in the crowd booed at the activist group and cheered for the student performances and the DJ.
“The purpose of the Stadium Stompers is to prevent the Temple University stadium from being built in our community,” said Ruth Birchett, a member of the group who has certificates from Temple in child care and perspectives on violence.
She believes that the new stadium will cause parking problems and erode the sense of community surrounding Temple’s Main Campus.
“The goal wasn’t to interrupt, the goal was to educate,” Birchett added. “We understand that every semester new students come into the school and we want to educate [them] about … the unfairness that their university is inflicting on our community.”
Many of the people who protested during the parade were students.
“Students need to realize that this issue isn’t really about us hating football or Temple,” said Becky Cave, a sophomore psychology and Spanish major. “It’s about the relationship between the university and the community members that have been living here for 30 to 40 plus years.”
A main point the Stadium Stompers expressed was that Temple students do not realize what they are doing to the community around them.
“[Students] live here for four to five years and they leave, but the people who raise their children here and that grow old here will have to deal with [the stadium] as long as it stands,” Cave said.
Francesca Furey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.