Temple Student Government will hold its second community forum on Tuesday to hear residents’ concerns about the proposed on-campus stadium.
TSG continues to oppose the construction of a stadium “as long as it has a negative impact on the North Philadelphia community,” according to its platform. In October, The Temple News reported that Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes personally opposes the stadium.
“I do not support the construction of a stadium in the middle of a predominantly black and brown residential community,” Mann-Barnes tweeted from his personal account following President Richard Englert’s State of the University address in September 2017.
Englert announced earlier this month that the university will submit its stadium proposal to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, and the university had communicated with North Philadelphia residents and leaders about the stadium for nearly two years.
Leonard Chester, TSG’s local and community affairs director, said the construction of a stadium will negatively affect North Philadelphians because it could “change the culture” of the neighborhood.
“I’m sure there are positives in anything, but we have to think about some of the negatives,” Chester said. “The stadium is going to take over a lot of the lifestyle and change the culture. It’s bad for families.”
Although TSG has met with community residents at one other forum, which was heated at times, it has not changed any of its policies, Chester said.
TSG created community forums so students could build a dialogue and create relationships with the community, Chester said. University administration is not involved in these forums.
At the first community forum in November, some residents told TSG that they are concerned with parking, increased partying and noise on Broad and Norris streets where the university proposed the stadium is built.
Ruth Birchett, who is the block captain of the 1900 block of Norris Street and a 1977 education alumna, attended TSG’s first forum and plans to attend the second set of discussions on Tuesday. She said the stadium will exacerbate problems the North Philadelphia community already faces, like noise from students, potholes left by construction and a lack of parking space.
“The university has not been a good neighbor like they make themselves out to be,” Birchett said. “They are hand-picking who they speak to and who they don’t speak to, just enough to get what they want passed.”
Ultimately, multiple city agencies will decide if the university can build the facility, but the university and residents will eventually have to meet.
Birchett said she wishes TSG would use its power to do more for the community, outside of solely talking to one another.
“I expected to be listening to them, where they were more listening to us,” Birchett added. “This is OK, as long as there’s a bigger give and take. I want to know what they’re up to that might be beneficial to us as a community.”
A tweet by TSG on Jan. 19 said the organization hopes to “elevate [community] voices” in university discussion about the stadium.
“Connecting with the community is a beautiful thing,” Chester said.