Every time there is some type of crime on Temple’s Main Campus, the media are ready to blow it out of proportion the next day.
Especially if the crime concerns athletes.
It is an unmerited and unfair reputation that Temple has as being “that dangerous college in the heart of the ghetto.”
Compared to other local colleges, given the size of the school, and the fact that Temple is located in a major metropolitan city, crime statistics are fairly low.
“The great majority of the crimes reported involved property rather than exposure to personal injury or other individuals” said the 1999 Crime Statistics Report.
Most of the crimes that do occur on campus are petty thefts and robberies and these occur mostly on public areas of the campus and are ten times less likely to happen in the dorms.
So, why the recent trend of Temple athletes being in the news for violence? Are athletes committing more crimes than the average student? No, it’s just that athletes have more of a celebrity status on campus and therefore incidents involving them are seen by the media as more sensational and “newsworthy.”
Most of you now know who Eric Moore and Elmarko Jackson are. Last Wednesday, former Temple football player LeVaun Wesley shot fellow student Eric Moore outside White Hall. Wesley was charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy, a weapons charge and other offenses. Wesley had been kicked off the team and lost his athletic scholarship a few weeks before for not participating in team activities.
Another football player, Elmarko Jackson made the papers last Spring when he was stabbed also in front of White Hall during an argument with another student.
The attacks on Elmarko Jackson and Eric Moore were not random acts of violence. Both students knew who their assailants were.
But have you ever heard of Chris Patton or Constantine Polites? Probably not. Patton was found dead inside a Temple dorm room in 1998. Investigators said it was suicide but Patton’s father, a Bucks County policeman returned two years later with disbelief, determined that the investigation was done “shabby” and believes his son was murdered.
Polites, a Temple student was robbed and found dead inside his Upper Darby home last April. Three people were arrested and became suspects for homicide.
Jackson and Moore are still alive. Patton and Polites are not.
Although the consequences of the latter two incidents were more severe, they were only reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer and local television stations. On the other hand, the stabbing of Jackson and shooting of Moore was reported nationally, in The Tampa Tribune, Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post to name a few.
Whether they like it or not, athletes are looked upon as role models. They should realize that when they get involved in violent crimes, it affects the reputation of the whole school. The media gives them extra attention so they should be prepared to leave their drama on the field where it belongs. It’s just a game after all.