“There is a crisis in the black community … be it on Temple’s campus, be it in North Philadelphia, be it in the United States; it’s very real and it needs to be addressed,” Sanya Daniels, president of Temple’s Progressive NAACP, said at Wednesday’s town hall meeting. “And we, the Progressive NAACP and all students, are uniting to take a stand and say enough is enough.”
The meeting followed a letter addressed to the University and the community written by Daniels and Temple Student Government President Naeem Thompson. The letter recalled two separate events, an alleged hazing incident of a white student at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house that led to Temple’s suspension of the fraternity’s charter for a year and an alleged harassment of five black undergraduate females in the Kardon building by a group of white male students.
“In light of these incidents, as well as the violence that has been occurring in the Philadelphia community, we at Temple University are taking a stand and saying enough is enough!” the letter stated.
A panel made up of members of the executive board of the Progressive NAACP and Thompson answered questions and listened to responses by students and community members present.
The meeting allowed an open forum for those present to formulate a list of demands to present to the University.
“I know too many students who have been disrespected in classes, dorms and haven’t had the vehicle to have their issues addressed,” said senior Nicole White, a tourism and hospitality management major.
According to Thompson, the demands mostly represented people’s opinions and did not necessarily mean that they were going to be pursued. He said the demands would need to be further researched so that students do not end up making demands for changes that the administration has already implemented.
The topic most discussed was the incident involving Sig Ep. Another topic of discussion included the lack of literary works by blacks in the Intellectual Heritage program and the need for a “comprehensive, zero-tolerance racial and hazing policy.”
Recent incidents of violence in North Philadelphia were not discussed, though it was stated as part of the reason for the meeting and Thompson said it was part of his personal agenda. He also wanted to see more of a discussion on how students could become “active participants in community issues.”
Students expressed their dissatisfaction with the administration’s handling of the two incidents and with the University Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures.
Sydney Atkinson, a sophomore finance major, heard about the meeting when she attended the NAACP Black Expo a week earlier. Atkinson described her generation as “sensationalist,” a generation that seems to place more focus and care on entertainment and less on issues that affect them.
“I grew up in a sensationalist generation. People just don’t care because it takes too much energy and time. They know that it is a long term commitment,” Atkinson said.
A rally is set tentatively for April 15. Whether the rally is held will depend on how receptive the administration is to student requests, Thompson said.
“The rally will raise consciousness and awareness and shed light on issues that have been long overlooked or swept under the carpet,” Daniels said. “We want our voices to be heard and our requests to be met.”
Dean of Students Dr. Ainsley Carry, who was present at the event said, “I support students’ efforts to fight for things they believe in. … It’s part of my responsibility to make sure the information they are dealing with is accurate,” Carry said.
Charmie Snetter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.