Temple has no culture.
Sure, this university has plenty of diversity and a great urban locale, but it lacks a certain mystique. This is one of the largest schools in the country, with an enrollment of nearly 34,000 students, but it does not seem like it. Schools like Pennsylvania State University, Ohio State University and the University of Maryland are comparable in size but so much richer in tradition. How can an institution that has been around for more than 100 years seem so pedestrian?
The idea for this article came when I was speaking with one of my co-workers at the bookstore. She spoke about how she is going to the University of North Carolina at Winston-Salem’s homecoming weekend. She said the atmosphere there is unmatched as Temple’s “Homecoming Week” really feels like only one day while Winston-Salem had a whole week of highly-publicized events.
I could not think of an argument as the last two Temple Homecoming Weeks I have been involved in have been largely forgettable, punctuated by a heartbreaking loss to University of Pittsburgh in 2004 and a blowout loss to University of Miami last year.
I went to all of the TSG meetings last year and I know that there is a newly established Homecoming committee that is working hard to make this an event other than just another October week. I am sure that as the on-campus student population continues to swell, Homecoming will become more of an event. But as of now, it is just an imitation of what other colleges do for their students every fall.
Another fact that adds to the lack of culture and pride at this school can be witnessed everyday on Liacouras Walk. At almost anytime of day, you can see students wearing sweatshirts and other apparel for every school under the sun in addition to Temple. This week alone, I have seen Vanderbilt University, Hofstra University and the worst of all – Saint Joseph’sUniversity. After all that has happened in the past few years, Saint Joe’s has really emerged as our arch rival. Yet students at Temple still proudly wear their apparel. If someone were to walk around State College in an Ohio State sweatshirt, they would be harassed at every turn. But here, either no one cares or they are too busy talking on their cell phones or puffing an obnoxious amount of cigarettes to take notice.
I am not calling for every student who reads this to run to the bookstore, buy a bunch of Temple apparel and become the schools biggest booster, but I think that there somehow needs to be a renewed sense of pride about this school.
Surprisingly it is one of the better non-Ivy League schools on the East Coast, but the students here would rather list 10 complaints they have rather than talk about the positive aspects. It may just be the fate of a commuter school that is trying to change its perception. But it is hard to stomach a school that has no personality, no tradition and no culture.
The sad part about all this is that culture cannot be learned. It is something that is established over time. This is where the school has to step in and help nudge the process along. At schools everywhere, from Penn State all the way down to UNC/Winston-Salem, students are bombarded with school spirit. It seems that at other schools, students cannot go anywhere without having their school’s pride shoved in their face. Here at Temple, we cannot walk through the Student Center without getting free samples of the newest energy drink being thrown our way.
The university and its student population are at a crossroads. We can either continue being the unassuming commuter campus that has big time university aspirations and little else, or we can start to embrace and expand the Temple tradition. I hope that in 25 years I can look back and see that the latter option was chosen.