Congratulations freshmen! Your class has swarmed into Temple in record numbers and is now living on campus at infestation proportions. Now, when a group of people is holding up the line in my 7-Eleven or clogging the entrance to the Student Center, I can curse the freshmen and have a better chance of being right. But I kid because I love.
According to the university’s Web site, nearly 3,900 freshmen started their college careers here this year, part of a trend of steady growth since 1998. The class is so enormous that it even made the evening news the week before this semester started.
What some of you freshmen may not know is that a number of you came very close to being homeless this year. You don’t know how lucky you are.
Let me take this opportunity to educate our newest students about what happened with housing last year. Last January, Temple revised its housing policy, blocking all rising sophomores from participating in the Housing Reassignment Process, known as the housing lottery. The result – more than 100 students marched across campus on Jan. 26 and blocked traffic on Broad Street to protest being displaced.
One of the causes for this policy change was a lack of available housing this time last year. A significant number of students who paid their deposits by the deadline during the previous spring did not receive housing by the time school started.
So when I heard the brand new Strawbridge Building in Center City was not completed in time for the start of the semester, I was skeptical. This warehouse-turned-apartment building was going to offer 239 beds on five floors to rising sophomores.
With Temple’s record of putting out students last year, I assumed that there were going to be more than 200 very angry students at the beginning of the 2004-05 school year. Surprisingly, the administration reacted quickly and found replacement housing for all these homeless students.
I imagined Temple probably found some kind of run-down alternative. It would be worse than the Franklin House and farther away than Presidential, right? Wrong. They placed all their students in the open spaces of the freshly built Oxford and University Villages, as well as the Kardon Building, all located right on Main Campus. Again, I was impressed, but thought surely this must be too good to be true and wondered what the catch was.
The administration had to be charging the students more to live there, I figured, and Temple is likely not tossing them a dime for the difference in cost. Again, I was wrong.
Those students who were paying less to live at Strawbridge still pay only the original cost to stay in their new home. The students relocated to a place cheaper than the Strawbridge pay the lower price of where they were placed.
For all my criticizing of Temple and its administration, for once I want to commend what they have done with this situation. What could have turned into a repeat of last year’s situation of homeless students turned into a quick, last minute relocation. Temple managed to resolve it quickly, effectively and fairly for all students affected instead of just saying tough luck and letting them fend for themselves.
So, freshmen, thank your lucky stars that you are starting off on the right foot with housing. Just be warned that things have not always gone so smoothly, and may not go as smoothly in the future.
Torin Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.