Temple students call for university action on violence

After recent incidents, Temple students share their safety concerns and hopes for change.

On Feb. 18, Fitzgerald was fatally shot while attempting to apprehend a carjacking suspect. | FILE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

After the death of Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald, students like Konrad Lojewski feel they need to be more careful when walking off-campus. 

“I think what happened to Officer Fitzgerald was the first, I think that having that happen to a police officer really changed my perspective, and I’m definitely sort of wondering, am I being dumb? And do I just need to take more precautions?” said Lojewski, a senior economics major.

On Feb. 18, Fitzgerald was fatally shot while attempting to apprehend a carjacking suspect. Two teenagers were also shot near Uber Street and Montgomery Avenue on Feb. 22, just two blocks outside of Temple Police’s patrol zone. Students are fearful in light of these incidents but hope to see changes in Temple’s safety protocol, like increasing TU Alerts and more on-campus housing.  

Almost 90 percent of students feel the university is not doing enough to protect its students, according to a November 2022 poll from The Temple News. Nearly 50 percent of respondents considered transferring due to safety concerns.

“It’s honestly really scary,” said Madison Torretta, a freshman early childhood education major. “I personally feel safe on campus, but it’s really sad to see how violent it is off of campus, so I don’t feel safe going off campus unless I’m with a big group of people.”

Toretta usually relies on TU Alerts to stay informed about any local violence or emergencies, she said. 

Jocelyn Szulborski, a junior public relations major, feels that the safety issues have gotten worse during her time at Temple.

“I feel like I’ve been here for three years and I just feel like it keeps getting progressively worse, and we’ve been talking about [it] in a lot of my classes and the administration just really isn’t even attempting to do anything to fix the circumstances,” Szulborski said.

The 19122 zip code, which encompasses Temple’s Main Campus, had 29 shooting victims in 2021 compared to 38 shooting victims in 2022, according to the Office of the Controller. There were also 146 shooting victims during both 2021 and 2022 in the 19121 zip code, where many students reside.

Szulborski feels that additional on-campus housing would help increase student safety, she said.

“I know the space isn’t really ideal, but I truly feel that would be a way to make things a little bit better,” Szulborski said.

Some students feel that TU Alerts are not reporting emergencies effectively, causing them to rely on other sources for information on local emergencies.

“I used to rely on TU Alerts but obviously they haven’t been posting everything that comes out so I do follow Keep Us Safe TU, sometimes I’ll look at Citizen, but that’s not always the most updated either,” said Liana Hoffman, a junior health professions major. 

Keep Us Safe TU is an Instagram account that was created in November to hold Temple accountable for what students felt was a lack of transparency in reporting crimes near Main Campus. The account now has more than 9,000 followers and posts updates on crimes in North Philadelphia. 

Temple needs to improve their communication with students and President Wingard needs to take more action in order to improve student safety, said John Panza, a senior general studies major. 

“I think the president of the university needs to do a better job of addressing these situations, especially keeping the campus informed when there’s shootings around the campus every day,” Panza said. “Personally, I have Citizen app and that tells me more than the TU Alert system that they have here.”

Students like Lojewski hope that recent incidents will affect positive change in Temple’s communication efforts and broader practices, including community outreach programs.

Lojewski hopes that the recent incidents of violence affect positive change and reinvestment in the Temple community.

“I feel after things like this happen, people always say we should do something but nothing actually ever moves forward, I think sometimes it’s because well-intentioned people don’t have the means or the resources, like students are pretty powerless,” Lojewski said.

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