Theobald addresses Welcome Week altercation

The president announced a university investigation into an alleged punch during Temple Fest, reportedly sparked by a heated debate.

President Theobald (left) and TSG President Ray Smeriglio talk shortly before Theobald spoke to the General Assembly
President Theobald (left) and TSG President Ray Smeriglio talk shortly before Theobald spoke to the General Assembly. Andrew Thayer | TTN

At the first Temple Student Government meeting of the semester on Monday, President Theobald addressed concerns about the altercation at Temple Fest.

Theobald stated that while he greatly supports intellectual debates and discussions, “there is no place on the university campus for violence.”

Theobald announced the university is conducting an investigation into the incident. If the investigation finds wrongdoing, the case will be passed to the district attorney’s office and the university’s disciplinary system. Otherwise, Theobald said, the case will be dropped and left to the possibility of a civil suit.

Shira Math, a senior public health major and member of Temple Hillel and Chabad at Temple University, asked the president during the meeting what steps he will be taking to make Jewish students feel safe at the university aside from the police force. She also asked Theobald if the university will be arranging a meeting with the organization Students for Justice in Palestine.

The president stated that they needed to first conclude the investigation and that they’re taking steps to address the students concerns.

Math appeared to be unsatisfied with the president’s response. She said she would like to hear how the incident will be handled and exactly what steps the university will be taking. In addition, Math proposed a meeting with the leaders of student organizations, open to the public where it would be stated that events like what occurred at Temple Fest are unacceptable.

Ben Math, Shira Math’sbrother, member of the Jewish Community and senior tourism and hospitality management student, was also concerned. “No one is entitled to hit another student,” he said.

Walter Smolarek, senior secondary education major and member of Students for Justice in Palestine, was also unsatisfied with the university’s response. He would like to see the President take a stand against the organizations which are trying to suppress their right to express their beliefs.

Local Rabbi and Chabad co-director Baruch Kantor, believes that the university is taking the proper steps to overcome the issue and is hopeful for the Jewish community move forward throughout the semester.

President Theobald also discussed recent changes at Temple like updates to the university calendar and upcoming construction on campus, which will include the demolition of Barton Hall where a new library will be created.

Theobald also discussed the Temple Option, an addition to the application process which will allow students the option to submit four essays in lieu of their SAT scores.

Mariam Dembele can be reached at

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