Top 10 news stories of 2017

Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial ended in a mistrial this summer. Five students died suddenly this semester, and the Temple community experienced several race-related incidents on Main Campus.

1. Student Death

In Fall 2017, five Temple students died suddenly. Junior film and media arts major Jenna Burleigh was killed off campus during the first week of classes, and her body was found more than 100 miles from Main Campus. Freshman mechanical engineering major Richard Dalcourt died by suicide after falling from 1940 Residence Hall in September. Transfer political science major Cariann Hithon was shot and killed by police in October after “driving recklessly” and attempting to flee in Miami. Two Fox School of Business students died from accidental overdoses in one week: senior marketing major Michael Paytas was found dead in Paley Library and junior business student James Orlando was found dead in his off-campus residence. The Temple News completed a semester-long investigation into how the university deals with student death by speaking to university officials and families of students who have died in prior academic years.

2. Jenna Burleigh’s murder trial

Joshua Hupperterz, a former advertising student, was charged with junior film and media arts major Jenna Burleigh’s murder. He will be tried for her murder in 2018, after the prosecution provided nearly seven hours of testimonies against Hupperterz. During a preliminary hearing, it was revealed that Temple Police was called twice to the apartment where Hupperterz lived on the night Burleigh was killed.

3. Former trustee Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial

A Pennsylvania district court judge ruled a mistrial in a case against former university trustee and comedian Bill Cosby in June. Cosby was accused and charged with sexually assaulting former university employee Andrea Constand in 2004. After five days and 52 hours of deliberations, the jury told the Court that members were “hopelessly deadlocked which cannot be resolved by further deliberations.” A new trial is set to begin in Spring 2018, after shakeups on Cosby’s legal team led to a trial postponement.

4. O’Connor Plaza controversy

Student organization Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance launched a campaign for Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor to step down from the Board and for the university to rename his namesake O’Connor Plaza that was completed this summer, among other demands. The students protested outside O’Connor Plaza, launched an email campaign to President Richard Englert and met several times with university officials about their concerns. Their efforts will continue into 2018.

5. Tuttleman Counseling Services

In 2017, the Temple community expressed concern about the long wait times to see a counselor at Tuttleman Counseling Services. In January, The Temple News reported that nearly 1,000 more students utilized the walk-in clinic in the 2015-16 academic year than the prior year, causing wait times of about five weeks before students could see a counselor. In response, Temple Student Government’s Parliament passed a resolution to shorten wait times. Tuttleman later relocated to a new facility and received more space in Fall 2017. The expansion helped Tuttleman shorten wait times, but students still were still being turned away during walk-in clinic hours.

6. Racism on campus

Several race-related incidents targeting Black students occurred in on-campus buildings in 2017. In May, flyers and slogans from a white nationalist group were found on several floors of Anderson and Gladfelter halls. Then in September, a student left bananas on the door handles of a Morgan Hall North dorm room occupied by Black students, causing university-wide outrage. Posters containing racial slurs were found around Main Campus in December that university officials said were “disgusting, hateful and [had] no place on our campus.”

7. The Pennsylvania state budget

Despite requesting a 19 percent increase in funding, Temple received the same appropriation of $150 million for the 2017-18 academic year from the state as it did the year before. But a budget impasse that lasted through October led students from Temple Student Government to travel to Harrisburg and lead on-campus efforts to advocate for Temple’s funding. Temple threatened it may raise tuition for in-state students by $6,000 for Spring 2018 if Temple didn’t receive its appropriation, but the appropriation later passed in the state capitol.

8. On-campus construction

Main Campus is filled with more than 100 construction projects, and The Temple News highlighted several of its largest capital projects in August. The university pushed back the library’s completion date again, this time to May 2019. The university also announced it will demolish Peabody Residence Hall during winter break, but hasn’t yet said what will be built in its place. President Richard Englert announced the university will continue to pursue the possibility of an on-campus stadium in his State of the University Address. Other on-campus construction projects like the Student Training and Recreation Complex on the corner of 15th Street and Montgomery Avenue concerned some community residents.

9. The ups and downs of Temple Student Government’s Parliament

In January, Temple Student Government instituted a new legislative branch called Parliament. The 34-seat representative branch has since gone through two TSG administrations, passing several resolutions, including one prompting university officials to teach students to administer Narcan and one to shorten wait times at Tuttleman Counseling Services. But by adding more students to TSG, finding a balance between Parliament and the Executive Branch became challenging. There was little guidance on how to handle student conflicts, which led to an impeachment hearing in Fall 2017, and no clear path for how to handle resolutions from prior administrations. TSG has attempted to solve these issues by instituting an Ethics Board and future conflict management trainings.

10. Sexual Assault Prevention Week

Temple Student Government hosted its first Sexual Assault Prevention Week, which was the long-promised initiative by TSG’s new Executive Branch. Gov. Tom Wolf recognized the week-long series, and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack attended one of its events. The Temple News analyzed Temple’s on-campus resources for reporting sexual misconduct and Temple’s Title IX Office.

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