For the Class of 2021, the past few days were full of some firsts: moving away from their families for the first time, attending their first college class and eating their first dining hall meal. And for many members of the Class of 2021, living at Temple marks their first time residing in an urban community that has existed generations prior to the university’s beginnings.
The Temple News has commented on the good and bad of Temple’s relationship with the community before: the impact of the university’s off-campus construction, leftover food from dining halls that could be donated to local organizations, stigmatizing language used in TU Alerts and Temple University Hospital’s efforts to combat gun violence in Philadelphia, to name a few.
We ended the 2016-17 year with a longform project exploring Temple’s presence in North Philadelphia, and we are beginning this year by encouraging all freshmen and transfer students to not only respect the surrounding community and the people who live here, but also to push themselves to learn more about North Philadelphia’s history and culture.
Recognize North Philadelphia for what it is: the home of historic institutions like the Freedom Theatre and Church of the Advocate. Talk to community residents about how the university’s growth has changed their neighborhood. When out with friends, recognize that North Philadelphia is not a temporary living situation — for many, it is a lifelong home.
At the convocation ceremony on Friday, about 7,000 people were officially recognized as new Temple students. North Philadelphia residents aren’t acknowledged through an annual ceremony, but that doesn’t make them less important.
So we remind you to treat the people who live in North Philadelphia as what they are: your neighbors.