Temple Student Government hosted student governments from the Big 5 Universities in Philadelphia Saturday to discuss issues the schools have in common.
TSG led student body presidents and other student government officials from the other Big 5 universities on a tour of Main Campus before having an in-group discussion and a press conference. The press conference was held on the top floor of Morgan Hall, the first student-run usage of the meeting space.
The intra-school meeting was also the first of its kind. The idea was first introduced when Future TU campaigned in Spring 2015. Student Body President Ryan Rinaldi said the idea garnered positive feedback from other students.
“Students loved the idea,” Rinaldi said. “We can kind of use this network to pick each other’s brains on issues and try to find positive outcomes for our students.”
In the wake of recent sexual assaults on campus and President Theobald’s Presidential Report on Sexual Misconduct, the meeting discussed student safety on campuses and the link to undergraduate alcohol consumption.
“We talked about things that lead to sexual assault,” Rinaldi said. “There is a campaign we’re going to start here called ‘Define Your Line’ and it’s going to be an educational campaign about realistically defining how much [students] should not drink and define that not by how much they drink, but the things they start doing.”
Nick Chingas, president of St. Joseph’s University Student Government, also weighed in.
“Drinking too much affects your body the same way, whether you are at a house party on St. Joe’s campus or a bar in University City,” Chingas said. “So it’s making sure that all of our policies are aligned towards helping students, no matter where they find themselves in our city.”
President of Drexel’s Student Government James Gordon saw similarities in the way both his school and Temple are expanding their campuses.
“One parallel I saw between Drexel and Temple was construction and improving campus facilities,” Gordon said. “Walking around today, I saw a lot of construction and buildings being restored and we’re seeing a lot of that at Drexel as well.”
As universities in the city continue to advance their sprawl, Rinaldi said the leaders discussed ways they looked to combat the downsides of gentrification.
“We talked about practices, different things that each university or each Student Government is doing to engage with the surrounding communities and universities on a number of activities,” Rinaldi said. “Whether it be Adopt-a-Block, that we have here at Temple, whether it be physically going out and picking up trash or going around and creating opportunities for students to get involved with local high schools, local middle schools and working with their students and trying to improve community relations that way.”
Chingas said the meetings’ locations will likely cycle to other campuses as well. The informal agreement between the leaders was to aim for two to three forums a semester, Gordon said.
Jane Meyer, president of the University of Pennsylvania’s Student Government, said the meetings would help to facilitate connections and conversations between the student bodies.
“It’s refreshing and often times very helpful to re-brand your thinking around certain issues or hear ideas that haven’t been brought up before on your campus,” Meyer said. “I learned a lot about exciting new programs and I’m excited to bring that back to students at Penn, student government at Penn and continue that conversation.”
Colton Shaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.