North Philadelphia. The home of Temple University, or as the nickname goes, “North Filth-adelphia.”
Campus is beautiful now, but it was only weeks ago when snow was everywhere and students were joking that the falling snow was not even safe to eat because it was already polluted – likely by chemicals emitted from Temple’s heating systems.
Once the snow melted, North Filthy quickly emerged. Empty bottles that had been buried beneath the snow resurfaced along Broad Street and the stale smell from the sewers grew strong from lack of any other seasonal scent in the air.
One student group, Students for Environmental Action, has proposed changes they would like the University to make, in hopes of making Temple a more environmentally friendly place.
Two issues that SEA has addressed are recycling and Temple’s source of heat energy. SEA has proposed that recycling bins be placed outside alongside on-campus trash cans. They have also asked the University to switch where its source of energy comes from. Currently, Temple burns a mixture of fossil fuels, oil and coal for heat energy. SEA would like to change that to wind energy by using a windmill, making the energy Temple uses cleaner and better for the environment.
Over the past few semesters, recycling awareness on campus has grown. SEA has been working with Temple’s Recycling Manager Marshall Budin to address the problem. Recycling bins have been placed outside of Paley Library and a recent shipment of 400 bins has arrived at Temple, which will be placed in dorms and buildings throughout campus.
SEA is not satisfied, though. Recycling bins that are indoors won’t eliminate bottles along the streets. Jeff Ham, a senior SEA member, said, “The University is reluctant to place recycling bins outdoors as a result of past problems with vandalism, and cost may also be a factor.”
But Temple is beginning to cooperate by putting some recycling containers on campus and over time it will help change the littering problem. SEA’s wind energy proposal, however, is a much bigger issue, which is requiring more deliberation.
Temple’s current source of energy, a combination of fossil fuels, oil and coal, is harming the environment and those who breathe emitted chemicals. The emissions that result from burning fossil fuels can cause serious health problems and death. Wind energy would help fix these troubles and would benefit the school’s environment by making the air cleaner and healthier.
Price is Temple’s argument against switching power sources because it would cost millions. Energy produced from a windmill goes through a grid and that energy is distributed among customers in that specific area, very similar to how electricity is distributed.
This means that wind energy must be purchased by the grid. Since Temple is in a neighborhood, wind energy would have to be purchased for the community, not just the campus, and the University argues that this is too costly.
The main problem is that wind energy comes from a windmill, which Temple certainly doesn’t have. Chrissy Katz, a freshman SEA member, explained a possible solution to the windmill dilemma.
“The architecture and environmental studies groups could help out with building it,” Katz said. “Other schools have wind energy, even [Temple] Ambler. Temple would make money with the investment. After seven years, it pays for itself. Temple would make a profit off wind energy. We’d buy everything for the windmill and use the energy for so long that it becomes cheaper to use.”
Another funding solution would be to add a $7 fee to each student’s tuition bill, which is not something the University agrees with. SEA suggested that the fee would have an opt-in or opt-out option on the tuition bill. Because students would have the option of not paying, the wind energy proposal is more likely to gain student support.
Both proposals would help Temple. Recycling bins and an energy source switch would prove that Temple wants to better the community. Though each would be costly, Temple would become more appealing, giving the school a better look and reputation.
It may not be noticeable at first, but these projects could begin to turn North Filthy around. Projects like these often start small and farfetched, but eventually manifest into great changes. Let’s make them.
Beth Keeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.