Most upper class students are very much aware that Temple is not an entirely safe place. It requires a certain amount of common sense to navigate the local streets. So when new freshmen try to get accustomed to the area, it is only natural that more than a few mishaps will occur.
Whilst on an evening trip to Soul Cucina, formerly Owl’s Nest, my eyes rested on one particular freshman participating in a conversation with an apparent homeless man. A big, naive smile was planted on his face. It was a clear hint that this newbie was totally unaware as to what would happen at the end of their conversation.
Inevitably, the man asked: “Excuse me man, can I have some cash?”
Within a few minutes, two upperclassmen boys attempted to come to the freshman’s aid by pulling him away from the man. The freshman himself shot down their attempts. He seemed to have mistaken this man asking for money as his new friend. By the end of the conversation, one Philadelphia homeless man had made $20.
I’ll admit I unleashed a chuckle, or two, or three. I also had a thought; I began to wonder if this event could have been avoided if this young man was better educated about the environment in which he would spend his next four years. If Temple offered a safety general education course for freshmen, its students could be more prepared to deal with city life without nearly as many mishaps.
At orientation, each student is slammed with buckets of information. How to be safe on Philadelphia’s city streets is just a pinch of all that they hear. Excuse me if I’m rushing to assumptions, but at orientation I was way too distracted by the prospect of college to even have the speeches on campus safety enter my ears.
To be fair, the department of kinesiology offers a safety course that is available for students to take. This course is called Personal Defense for Women. It caps out at 25, only four are currently running this semester, and it excludes 48 percent of Temple’s population – the men. The problems with this as the only available safety course are vast.
Essentially, excluding the freshmen orientation safety speech and a few open seminars here and there, in any given semester only 200 females out of Temple’s population of more than 37,000 individuals can get safety training.
The class that I have in mind would offer safety tips for the new student body. Involving everything from how to decipher which strangers are safe and which are simply “strange,” how to keep your wallet safe, what to do when the subways stop running, what time the subways start running, how to never lose your ID and how to conduct yourself in your new environment. These are all tips that I wish someone had written down for me. I lost two IDs, $15 and got stranded in Center City twice my first year.
Freshman university studies major Reddy Cypress agrees that maybe his class could use the assistance.
“For some people, oh yes this course would be very helpful,” he said.
Cypress’s friend, freshmen psychology major Devan Spross, holds a similar opinion.
“People just don’t seem to understand that some people out there are dangerous,” Spross said.
If two freshmen can acknowledge that their classmates could use a little extra street prep, I say why not?
The “do-it-yourselfers” out there have their objections. It is believed by some that the class of 2016 should learn by experience.
Ask yourself: Do you think the freshman boy who lost $20 to the seemingly homeless man thought he learned a good lesson? Probably not. Safety tips are always more effective before an event occurs.
Would you have liked a little extra help your freshman year? Or did the “figure it out” stance work for you? Let’s be proactive, Temple.
Cindy Stansbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.