Despite freezing temperatures Monday afternoon, a group of Temple students took to the streets to protest a new administrative policy eliminating juniors and seniors from on-campus housing next fall.
What began as a group of eight students convening in the Paley library escalated into a throng of more than 100 students marching across campus to speak out against the policy.
Students held signs reading “We work hard to go to school – TU housing, don’t be cruel” and “From Hardwick to homeless” as they marched from the Bell Tower to Broad street. The demonstration blocked traffic for 30 minutes.
Students Samantha Richards, Amber Woodford and Naomi Hopkins organized the protest to draw attention to student discontent over the policy.
“We want to get the administration’s attention,” Woodford said. “They’re not listening to the students. We want this policy to be phased-in, not thrust upon us.”
Students are concerned mostly about cost, safety and convenience. Paying monthly rent, many students noted, is more difficult than paying a university housing bill. Most students are also unhappy with the idea of using public transportation to attend classes.
“Having juniors and seniors living off campus ruins the structure of the campus,” Temple Student Government President Bryan Carter said. “It completely removes them from campus life – who wants to come back here for a lecture or a meeting when they’ve already left for the day?”
Although incoming freshmen, rising sophomores and first-year transfer students will be guaranteed housing if they fill out their housing applications correctly and on time, other students are still concerned about their futures in the battle for on-campus housing.
“I’m very worried about the housing situation,” said Kristina Sullivan, a Temple Towers resident. “We were not told that there would be no guarantee for housing after our second year here. If I had known that, I never would have come to Temple.”
Other students noted if the surrounding community finds out Temple students are being moved off campus, rent prices in the area will skyrocket.
“It’s really a shame that we invested time and money into this school and now we have to look elsewhere,” said Courtney Mack, a junior at 1300.
But not all students are quick to label the new policy a bad idea.
“I think it’s important for students to experience and live the culture of Philadelphia,” said Jakub Olesiak, a senior who has lived off campus for three years. “There’s so many things to do in the city, it’s ridiculous to spend all your time on campus anyway.”
Temple’s housing department offered an off-campus housing fair Tuesday for students to research alternative housing plans. Representatives from the new Oxford and University Villages, as well as other residential complexes, were available to answer questions and distribute information.
Junior Stephanie Young noticed the high costs of renting an apartment. “A lot of these places are pricey,” she said. “My roommates and I are actually thinking about renting independently.”
Other students had heard about the new policy and were gathering information on off-campus apartments “just in case.”
Freshman Henry Cohn said he came to Temple with the expectation he would not be living on campus after his sophomore year.
“I’m looking around for maybe next fall, but I haven’t found anything I like yet,” he said.
The effectiveness of Monday’s demonstration is not yet clear. The housing department is offering several informational meetings for students with questions or concerns about the new policy. Information and a schedule can be found at www.temple.edu/housing.
Barbara J. Isenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.