Top 10 Features stories of 2023

From honoring the loss of President JoAnne Epps to one law student’s activism for Election Day off, here are some of the most memorable Features stories from the past year.

Student groups advocate for Election Day off in 2024. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

This year, the Temple community grappled with gun violence and the unexpected death of university President JoAnne Epps, as well as national issues such as the Israel-Hamas war. Amid the turmoil, some students turned to activism, hosting rallies and vigils on campus. 

Despite the issues deeply affecting the community, students and alumni were able to find joy through club sports, rediscovering personal passions and creating and performing music.

Here are the top 10 Features stories from this past year. 

1. Mentor, educator, friend: honoring JoAnne Epps 

By Molly Fiske and Duay Augustine

Epps at her introductory press conference in April. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The Temple community shared memories of President JoAnne Epps, who passed away unexpectedly on Sept. 19. Epps is remembered as a trailblazing educator in the legal field, and was Temple’s first Black female president. Temple staff members and Epps’ former students  remarked on her passion for mentorship and teaching and reflected on her almost 40-year career at Temple.

2. How safety concerns forced these Temple students to transfer

By Samuel O’Neal and Molly Fiske

There have been 26 shootings that took place within the Temple University Police Department patrol zone in 2022. | FILE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Many students have transferred or contemplated transferring from Temple because of rising safety concerns around Main Campus in 2023. Students who have transferred shared their reasoning for doing so and their experiences of crime and campus safety with The Temple News in February.

3. Temple community mourns death of Christopher Fitzgerald in emotional vigil

By Duay Augustine

Marissa Fitzgerald arrives at the Bell Tower for the vigil remembering her husband, Christopher Fitzgerald. | ERIKA MONN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Hundreds of people gathered at the Bell Tower to mourn the death of Christopher Fitzgerald, who was fatally shot on Feb. 18 on 17th Street near Montgomery Avenue. Speakers shared memories of Fitzgerald’s love for his family and the Temple community, as well as hopes for the community to strengthen in light of the tragedy. 

4. “Our hearts are connected”: Students attend vigil honoring Palestinian lives

By Duay Augustine and Claire Zeffer

A vigil, organized by Temple University Students for Justice in Palestine, was held on Nov 8 at Beury Beach to mourn those lost in the latest Israel-Palestine conflict. | NOEL CHACKO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University Students for Justice in Palestine and the Philly Palestine Coalition, a Free Palestine advocacy organization, organized the candlelit gathering, where attendees held printed photos of Palestinian victims, mournfully referred to as martyrs.

5. “Bring them home”: Students hold vigil in solidarity with Israeli hostages

By Oliver Sabo and Sidney Rochnik 

Dozens of students, faculty and community members gathered at the Bell Tower Thursday to peacefully stand in solidarity with the Israeli and Jewish community | PABLO ROUCO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Owls for Israel, a student organization that advocates for Israel and Jewish students at Temple, hosted a vigil in honor of Israeli hostages at the Bell Tower on Nov. 17 with help from Hillel at Temple and other members of the university’s Jewish community. The Bell Tower was decorated with missing-person posters and balloons for each of the 239 people who were being held in Gaza by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

6. Temple law student reignites efforts for time off on Election Day

By Molly Fiske

Arlo Blaisus, a law school student, is currently spearheading a project that calls for Temple to cancel classes on Election Day. | JACK LARSON / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Arlo Blasius, a third-year law student, pushed Temple’s administration to give students time off for Election Day 2024. Alongside Owls Out for Democracy, Temple Student Government and Temple University Democrats, Blasius was able to advocate for the release of a student poll to determine the Fall 2024 schedule.

7. Alumna gets “Day Off” in new music video

By Duay Augustine

Nervous Nikki and the Chill Pills, a band whose lead singer Nikki Bauza is a Temple alumna, will be releasing a music video for their latest single, “Day Off” | COURTESY / NICOLE BAUZA

On Nov. 17, 2010 film studies alumna Nicole Bauza and her band, Nervous Nikki and the Chill Pills, released the music video for their single “Day Off.” The video depicts Bauza’s struggles as a mother to two young girls as she flees her family for the day off she desperately needs.

8. Temple Women’s Rugby Club aims for nationals victory

By Molly Fiske

A women’s rugby player during practice at the STAR Complex. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Women’s Rugby Club aims for a Division II nationals victory after coming up short against Vassar College the past two fall seasons. A club team, TUWRC doesn’t make roster cuts, their coach is a volunteer and they receive a small amount of funding from the university, so the team usually fundraises to make ends meet.

9. University trendsetters: Temple named second most fashionable campus in United States

By Molly Fiske

Temple was recognized as one of the most fashionable campuses in the United States for students’ laid-back style. | MOLLY FISKE // THE TEMPLE NEWS

In October, Temple was named the second most fashionable campus in the nation by StyleSeat, a fashion media outlet, for its comfortable and laid-back style. Places like the makeshift skatepark at Cecil B. Moore Plaza, where students often sell handmade or thrifted clothing and accessories, act as a hub for on-campus fashion. 

10. Decades-old film gives Temple alumnus Best Short Film win

By Molly Fiske

The film, based on Blaney’s own teenage experience, follows Jim Fern and his friend Craig as they experience life in Manhasset, New York | COURTESY / BILL BLANEY

Nearly four decades after its filming for 1986 film alumnus Bill Blaney’s senior project, “Three Phases of Fern” was selected as Best Short Film at the Long Island International Film Expo. The 45-minute film was inspired by Blaney’s high school experience as a member of the Bleacher Creatures, a notorious social group known for their drug habits, disruptive behavior and all-denim and band-tee style.

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