Temple addresses racist posts from students, will not cut PPD ties

The university announced the Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students will meet with students who made racist posts on social media.

Temple University addressed racism in the Temple community in an announcement on Sunday night written by President Richard Englert, Executive Vice President and Provost JoAnne Epps and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Clark.

The university recommitted themselves to providing resources to understand race and racism, monitoring policies and practices for racial bias and responding to complaints of discrimination. Temple also said that they will advocate for antiracist policies at all levels of government and engage in service for marginalized communities. 

Temple received hundreds of messages expressing disappointment in racist statements made by current and incoming students on social media this week, according to the announcement.

Earlier this week, Temple tweeted responding to more than a dozen current and incoming students seen posting racist remarks on social media. The university takes each report seriously and reports instances to the Dean of Students for action as warranted, the tweet wrote.

“Make no mistake, these racist statements are repugnant,” the announcement read. “We are as disgusted by these comments as are those of you who took the time to write to us or post your thoughts on social media.” 

In response to the racist posts, Temple pledged Vice President of Student Affairs, Theresa Powell, and the Dean of Students will meet with each student who made these comments. 

The announcement stated that as a public university, Temple has to uphold these students’ First Amendment rights.

The statements made in these posts will be reviewed in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct, according to the announcement. The university will hold students accountable for engaging in intimidation, harassment, threats of violence and violations of Temple’s conduct standards, according to the announcement.

The university acknowledged requests for Temple to discontinue its involvement with the Philadelphia Police Department but said it would not be in the best interest of the Temple community to do so. The announcement cited safety concerns for Temple and the surrounding neighborhoods over ending involvement with the PPD and highlighted Temple Police’s access to the city’s dispatch system through its relationship with the department.

A student petition with more than 3,900 signatures was created for Temple to discontinue its relationship with the PPD and students protested on campus earlier this week for the same cause.

The announcement also addressed the violent treatment of Evan Gorski, a student who was beaten by a Philadelphia Police Inspector during an off-campus protest for racial justice earlier this week. Temple has contacted Gorski and will support him, according to the announcement.

The university outlined its decision to recommit to policing practices they believe will rebuild public trust. Temple will continue antiracism training for Temple Police officers and collaborate on policy with Gov. Tom Wolf and Mayor Jim Kenney to adopt recommendations from President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report and discuss student concerns between student leaders, the PPD and Temple Police, according to the announcement.

The announcement also highlighted Temple’s research in dismantling racist policies in Pennsylvania public schools and university programs, like ones through the College of Education, which provide the community access to necessary resources and services.

Temple announced it will work with local high school principals to enroll first-year students from the university’s surrounding neighborhoods in a high school enrichment and summer bridge program, according to the announcement.

The university’s Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership will continue to serve as a resource in matters relating to racial justice, according to the announcement.

The announcement stated that if students have information about discrimination, harassment or bias from the Temple Police, Allied Universal Security Services or the PPD, they can make complaints confidentially online or by calling 844-755-3394. Students can also contact the Office of Community Relations for information about taking action against racial injustice, according to the announcement.

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