Moving from Main Campus to its outskirts can come with more baggage than planned for.
Living off campus can be a beautiful introduction into city life or a painful awakening to the conditions of our North Philadelphia community and the woes of adult responsibility, and students who choose to live in the area surrounding Main Campus should be aware of the risks that may accompany their independence.
Mike Tracy, a junior finance major, came to his own understanding of those risks last fall, after making the mistake of leaving a window unlocked to his three-bedroom rental at 17th and Berks streets.
“Our place was broken into over Thanksgiving break last year,” Tracy said. “They had kicked in the bars off of the bathroom window, climbed through and then broke through the back door where apparently other people had come through.”
In addition to about $4,000 in stolen property, which included DVDs, a plasma TV, laptops and other electronics, Tracy said his landlord tried to hold the students responsible for damages to the property, citing negligence as the cause of the break in. To add to the sting, Tracy hadn’t gotten around to buying renter’s insurance.
“Our landlord said that if [we] ‘contend’ that our house was burglarized, then we need to show him a police report, even though he was present the night that we got back from break,” Tracy said.
Last year, there was a long string of burglaries in the properties being leased to students west of Main Campus, the highest concentration occurring between 19th and 16th streets, between Dauphin and Berks streets. This area is just shy of the Temple Police patrol radius, which includes the area from 16th to Ninth streets and from Susquehanna Avenue to Oxford Street.
“With the increase in students living in the areas around Main Campus, Temple Police have enlarged their patrol radius in the past,” said Ray Betzner, the vice president of communications at the university. “We may see an increase in the future, but there are obvious natural limitations considering the size of the force.”
Safety and housing quality are certainly some of the leading concerns of students who live around Temple.
“We haven’t really had any problems,” said junior criminal science major Pat Jochum about his apartment near the intersection at Broad and Diamond streets.
“We’ve been here for three years now,” said Jochum, who lives in a two-bedroom apartment owned by Temple Town. His apartment falls within the patrol area of Temple’s 124 officers.
Temple Town is one of the largest off-campus housing providers to Temple students.
“We own over 70 buildings,” said Star Boscana, a 2008 Temple graduate and leasing agent for Temple Town. “That’s approximately 200 units. We have about 600 tenants, and our tenant make-up is 99.9 percent Temple students.”
Boscana and her colleague Jill Kerrigan, the regional property manager for Temple Town, said they’ve had their share of difficulties with student tenants.
“The biggest thing that we try to enforce is really to respect your neighbors,” Kerrigan said.
Boscana said sometimes they will hear from the neighbors or Temple police about issues with their tenants.
“We get a lot of calls about Carlisle Street,” Boscana said. “Mostly [students] peeing in public, breaking neighbor’s flower pots, throwing bottles. Just drunkenness in general.”
After living on Carlisle Street and at 30th and Master streets, Stephen Twigg, a senior visual anthropology major, can attest that Temple’s surrounding community offers challenges.
“Being a Caucasian student living in a predominately black neighborhood, I basically represented gentrification to the community,” Twigg said.
“No matter how nice you try to be to people,” he said, “you always have a couple that assume the worse about you.”
Senior elementary education major Julianne Cavanaugh said she’s decided to stretch her wings beyond the immediate Temple community.
“I lived in a three-bedroom house at 19th and Ellsworth streets last year and just moved into a two-bedroom apartment on 12th and Walnut streets,” said Cavanaugh, who said she finds the youthful, energetic feel of city life to be exhilarating.
“I decided to move here because the prices were better considering the area, and everything you could ever ask for like food, bars and shopping is right there at your finger tips.”
Quentin Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.