Temple Student Government is developing its community engagement strategies this year by increasing the number of community forums and other programs it will hold with community residents.
This engagement initiative, led by Director of Local and Community Affairs Damontay Fowler-Thomas and Vice President of External Affairs Cameron Kaczor, involves the formation of street teams that will go door to door to distribute information about the forums.
Students will give open invitations to community residents to participate in these meetings, Fowler-Thomas said.
“We want to open the floor for some pressing issues in the community that members think we could be of service to them and set goals and track our progress of meeting those goals,” he said.
Community forums will start in one to two weeks, where TSG and Temple Police will engage with the community and voice concerns about contemporary issues in the area near Main Campus, Fowler-Thomas said.
“The issue with community forums is not that Philadelphia residents lack concern, it’s that they don’t have the information and the resources to get involved,” Fowler-Thomas said.
Some residents are unaware TSG hosts these engagement events, like Karlos Martin, who lives near Oxford and 19th streets.
This initiative would change that, Fowler-Thomas said. Because local elderly community residents do not use social media, this initiative would allow residents to have greater access to university information, he added.
More than 11 student organizations reached out to collaborate with TSG on engagement activities, including the National Council of Negro Women, Progressive NAACP, Temple Owlettes, Alpha Tau Omega, Net Impact, Theta Tau and Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship.
Because many clubs and organizations have their own agendas, a collaborative agenda would allow the initiative to have a significant influence on the community, he said.
TSG has other plans to create a positive community relationship this year outside of the university’s plans, like its on-going Adopt-A-Block initiative with Campus Safety Services that encourages students to connect with their neighbors and do block cleanings, Fowler-Thomas said.
TSG plans to collaborate with TUPD and Kathleen Grady, the university’s director of sustainability, to improve the environmental quality of neighborhoods near Main Campus.
“I would love to see the community work to clean up the area,” said Tarik Thompson, who lives near the corner of 11th Street and Girard Avenue.
TSG plans to have one or two cleanups per month on Saturdays.
“That’s one small portion of problems in the community, but hopefully [our initiatives are] something that can be sustained,” Fowler-Thomas said. “We just wanted to show the community that the youth is engaged and that we are actively seeking to help.”