Students and local groups protest Temple police, campus discrimination

The Temple University Coalition for Change organized a “teach-in” at the Bell Tower on Wednesday that featured speakers from local organizations.

Mecca Bullock, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, speaks to a crowd of students at the Bell Tower on July 8. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Approximately 100 students marched around Main Campus and participated in an hour-long “teach-in” at the Bell Tower to protest a myriad of issues to the Temple University administration, including its response to recent racist incidents within the student body and its police force.

The march, organized by the newly-formed student group Temple University Coalition for Change, began at Cecil B. Moore Avenue near Broad Street and paused at the Temple University Police Department station on Montgomery Avenue near 11th Street for a moment of silence in honor of victims of police brutality before ending at the Bell Tower.

The teach-in featured speakers from Stadium Stompers, a community group organized to oppose Temple’s planned on-campus stadium; the Institute for the Development of African-American Youth, a local nonprofit; the Party for Socialism and Liberation; and the nonprofit Critical Resistance, whose goal is to “end the Prison Industrial Complex.”

Speakers at the teach-in emphasized the need for Temple to respect the surrounding community and combat discrimination against students on campus. 

“You guys need to stand up and demand a real education. A real one,” said Gail Loney, an organizer with Stadium Stompers. “When y’all come on this campus, y’all need to come to the neighborhood. Y’all need to come and talk to us. They’re not telling you the history of this neighborhood”

Other demands of the Coalition for Change include defunding TUPD, requiring an additional Race and Diversity GenEd for all students, and increasing funding for investigations into and education surrounding sexual harassment and assault. 

After the teach-in, organizers with the Coalition for Change invited students to sign a large board listing their demands and delivered it to President Richard Englert’s office in Sullivan Hall. Temple accepted the petition and will take it under advisement, wrote Ray Betzner, a spokesperson for the university, in an email to The Temple News.

Englert announced yesterday that he is seeking retirement and will leave his post after the Board of Trustees chooses a successor. 

Jack Fletcher, a junior legal studies major and organizer with the Coalition for Change, said they want to use Englert’s retirement as an opportunity to press the university to make choosing the next president a fairer process.

“We want to put together a representative and democratic process that will allow our community, faculty, campus workers, students, everyone to have their say, have a vote, and hopefully have a president who can represent this community instead of just the Board of Trustees,” Fletcher said.

Teresa Swartley, a senior political science major and organizer with the Coalition for Change, said the organization will continue to hold protests during the academic year until their demands are met. 

“We’re starting to build traction this summer, really just focusing on base building, but as the school year returns, we do plan to just continue this and step up,” Swartley said.

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