Amid safety concerns on and near campus, President Jason Wingard will meet with Temple Student Government and other student leaders this week to work towards a campus safety solution, he wrote in an email to students Tuesday.
“Last week’s tragedy united our community in pain and heartbreak and heightened our deep outrage over the gun violence that permeates the surrounding area,” Wingard wrote. “Laying Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald to rest underscored the urgency to change the way we approach off-campus safety. It also challenged us to remain together as we build a unified, long-term solution.”
The email came less than an hour before a demonstration, organized by Keep Us Safe TU, a student-run Instagram account that posts about safety issues on and around campus, protesting the university’s campus safety response.
Temple has a long history of peaceful demonstrations, and welcomes them, Wingard wrote.
“We understand and share your feelings of fear and anger over the scourge of gun violence in our North Philadelphia community and the misperceptions around the university’s response,” he added. “We are frustrated, too, because we have made significant efforts for more than a year—but, despite our progress, we recognize that none of us can do it alone.”
The university also confirmed to The Temple News that KUSTU and Wingard will meet sometime this week.
In his email, Wingard also continued to cite gun violence as a national systemic issue that needs to be solved by the community, police and other civic partners.
“Temple is fully committed to doing everything possible to determine the best ways to keep you, the broader community, and our officers safe—including getting your input,” Wingard added.
In a Feb. 24 joint statement posted to Temple’s public safety update webpage, the Philadelphia Police Department and Temple University Police Department announced that they will expand their agreement to provide supplemental patrols and continued coordination and support, effective March 1.
The statement also said that while the two departments’ radio frequencies are incompatible, they communicate through other channels, including shared channels that were used the night Sgt. Fitzgerald died. PPD and TUPD met in mid-January to discuss strategies behind supplemental patrols.
“There was a mutual recognition that, given the current staffing limitations at the time and the need to enhance operations plans, we would collaborate and reevaluate how to deploy resources in the most effective and efficient manner moving forward,” the departments wrote.