A group of Temple University student and faculty organizations protested at the university at the Bell Tower Tuesday against possible future budget cuts that the Temple Association of University Professionals believe might happen.
Members of TAUP, Temple University Graduate Students’ Association, Temple Young Democratic Socialists of America, Temple Marxists, Defund TUPD and Temple United Students Against Sweatshops also called on the university to lower its tuition, implement a $15 minimum wage for campus employees, create an elected student seat on the Board of Trustees and increase funding for mental health services, among other demands. Approximately 30 people attended the protest.
“We at TAUP stand in strong support and solidarity with our students in our struggle against a ridiculously unnecessary and inhumane cuts demanded by this administration, as well as the effort to create a more democratic institution,” said Mary Stricker, a TAUP member at large and sociology professor, at the protest.
The group of student and faculty organizations began planning to organize about these issues in January and February, said Rachel Wilder, a member of Defund TUPD and Temple Young Democratic Socialists of America and a freshman music therapy major.
Temple did not raise in-state tuition during the last two years and did not raise out-of-state tuition last year, The Temple News reported. The Board of Trustees adopted its operating budget in July 2020.
The university proposed five percent budget cuts during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, The Temple News reported. Temple has not finalized its budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
“The university is working through the budget now,” wrote Raymond Betzner, a spokesperson for the university, in an email to The Temple News. “It is our primary goal to ensure Temple is as affordable as possible while being able to maintain the operations of the university.”
Organizers also protested the university’s treatment of international graduate students, funding of the Temple University Police Department and Temple’s gentrification in North Central.
“Temple does not work if we don’t,” Wilder said. “With students and labor organizations together, we are a force to be reckoned with.”
Wilder wants Temple to redirect money from the TUPD toward mental health services on campus, she said in her speech.
“Instead of funding this bloated police budget Temple needs to defund the TUPD and fund mental health services on campus, which are currently abysmal with long wait times, understaffing and limits on care,” Wilder said.
Tuttleman Counseling Services at Temple offers mental health screening, virtual student support groups and an emergency mental health helpline, according to its website.
Between speeches, organizers and attendees chanted “not for profit, for the people” and “we can’t survive on $7.25,” referring to the federal minimum wage.
In October and November, TUGSA will demand that Temple give graduate students a raise, affordable housing and protections for international graduate students, said Josh Stern, next year’s director of organizing for TUGSA and a third year history doctoral candidate, in his speech.
“[Temple] has different priorities than what we’re all here for and what a nonprofit should be for,” Stern said. “Being a nonprofit is that the first thing you should be doing is helping the community. You should be serving the public.”
In April 2020, TUGSA members expressed concerns about financial and travel situations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among international graduate students, The Temple News reported.
The coalition is planning to host a virtual event with the organizations and students who signed up for the email mailing list, Wilder said. A date for the event has yet to be announced.