On March 23, senior vice president and chief operating officer, Ken Kaiser, sent out a university-wide announcement with updated plans for ongoing campus safety efforts as they attempt to mitigate increased crime in the area.
After the fatal shooting of Samuel Collington, a 21-year old senior political science major, last November, Temple announced it would enhance its campus safety through increasing its police force and working alongside the Philadelphia Police Department to cover more ground in off-campus patrolling.
The Editorial Board cannot provide a definitive answer regarding the response to increased safety concerns. Yet, we maintain that parents, fellow students and even TUPD cannot responsibly address these issues without heavy community input.
Safety is crucial for students to be able to effectively learn and comfortably attend classes, but it’s important that their comfort doesn’t supersede the well-being of North Central residents.
While all students have different backgrounds and circumstances, the Editorial Board believes it’s important to reiterate that the majority of students are not from the North Central area, and moved to the city willingly to attend Temple. However, many of our neighbors are lifelong residents that do not have the same level of choice regarding where they live and work, regardless of safety.
Despite the university’s receptiveness to parents’ viewpoints, like permitting a parent-led protest on campus last semester, The Editorial Board wants to mention that residents have more expertise on the area and its issues, which is worth more consideration.
The university grouped North Central residents alongside students, faculty and staff as members of the larger Temple community that would benefit from campus safety protections, according to Kaiser’s announcement. The Editorial Board encourages the university to explore the implications of lumping residents and students into the same category.
This is not to say there should be a divide among residents and the Temple community, but rather that these safety changes will not impact students and parents the same way they affect residents. For example, increased patrols may mean more ease for students and parents, but it could pose an increased risk of racial profiling or police brutality for residents who are primarily people of color.
Though there may be some shared goals and interests regarding reducing violence in the area, it’s worth noting that the desires for students and parents may vary from the wants and needs of residents. The North Central community should not just have a say in the issue of increased campus safety, but, at times, control of the conversation when it comes to matters of how increased policing could affect their neighborhoods.
Even if community voices diverge from the goals of the university, The Editorial Board still maintains residents’ unique and experienced perspectives are valuable to conversations about making North Central a safer, healthier place to live. Not only will we benefit greatly from remembering this as the Temple community moves forward in its safety improvements, but it’s the university’s responsibility to create an open space for residents to discuss the issues that will impact their livelihood.