The Stadium Stompers held a theatrical demonstration called “Meet your Board of Trustees” outside of the Board of Trustees meeting in Sullivan Hall on Tuesday.
The organization — made up of students, faculty and community residents who oppose the proposed on-campus football stadium —aimed to tell students and faculty about the trustees’ alleged economic interests.
Members held up photos of Board members over their faces, reading descriptions of who the member is. Demonstrators also mimicked members like Board Chairman Patrick O’Connor, J. William Mills III and Richard J. Fox, among others.
In the demonstration, members accused Mills III of defrauding customers during his tenure at PNC Bank. They also questioned Fox on his involvement with former President Ronald Reagan’s campaign and accused trustee Christopher W. McNichol of misusing funds as manager of Temple’s Endowment Retirement plan. They also accused Trustee Bret S. Perkins of tax evasion while working for Comcast.
The Stadium Stompers also mentioned the connection Chairman O’Connor had representing Bill Cosby in his 2005 sexual assault civil suit.
Stadium Stompers hold up photos of Board of Trustees members as they speak into microphones pic.twitter.com/7l8cfQE9qw
— Lindsay Bowen (@lindsay_bow) October 10, 2017
Protestors were separated by metal barriers that stretched from Broad Street to 13th Street along Pollett Walk, crossing 13th and wrapping around the Bell Tower.
Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charles Leone said that the police activity surrounding the protest was an effort to clear the space not only for the meeting, but also for the dedication of Lenfest Circle following the Board meeting.
Jackie Wiggins, a 67-year-old resident who lives on 20th Street near Diamond, called for the university to reinvest the $126 million for the new stadium into public education and affordable housing for senior citizens and veterans.
“The building of a 35,000 seat sports stadium at Broad and Norris to 16th [Street] is a travesty,” Wiggins said to the crowd. “All of this can be renegotiated, and Temple University Board of Trustees members understand that, they know that.”
“There are many people in North Philadelphia who are opposed to it,” she added. “We are once again letting the university community know that we are not pleased with this type of decision-making.”
Stadium Stomper Jacqueline Wiggins speaks of how Stadium Stompers has brought students and residents together directly for the 1st time. pic.twitter.com/4YrgAKs703
— Julia (@JuliaKBoyd) October 10, 2017
Freshman history major and Stadium Stompers member Lile Harrison spoke how his tuition contributes to the university’s negatively impacted the surrounding community.
“They are using our tuition dollars, which [students] go thousands and thousands of dollars in debt for to gentrify this neighborhood and do something that isn’t beneficial to this neighborhood that’s going to tear it apart instead of building something sustainable,” Harrison said.
‘We’re trying to disrupt the meeting,” Harrison added. “We’re also trying to let these people that are coming by know who the board is, and know how shady the business deals and their economic ties are.”
Former student and member of the communist Worker’s World Party Cody Lamie, who has been following the Stadium Stompers’ efforts, spoke out about his opposition for the stadium.
“So long as you’re doing the proper outreach to the community, that’s what’s important,
Lamie said. “I doubt they’ll reach a decision today. I think they’ll deflect this for as long as possible. We need to place serious pressure on the Board for a positive lead on our way.”
“Stadium Stompers needs to bring [this issue] right to Jeffrey Lurie’s doorstep,” he added.
Lurie is the owner of The Eagles, and many of the protesters said the university should negotiate with Lurie to lower the cost of playing at Lincoln Financial Field.
As the protest wrapped up, the Stadium Stompers said they will meet at the Church of the Advocate on 18th Street near Diamond on Wednesday to continue the conversation about the stadium.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to include live tweets from The Temple News reporters.