President Englert Testifies Before Senate Appropriations Committee

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President Englert seemed confident Tuesday after his testimony before the Senate Appropriations committee.

He, along with his counterparts from Lincoln, Pitt, and Penn State Universities made the annual trip to the capitol to appeal for the continuation of financial support for state institutions. That state funding was in peril just a few months ago, when the state had yet to pass the funding for the state related schools.

Last year, Temple received 156 million dollars. Thats 11% of the university’s operating budget.

“There is no better investment for a commonwealth appropriation than to invest in higher education,” said Englert when asked how he thought the hearing went.

The hearing, which lasted over two and a half hours, included multiple questions from senators about campus safety, innovation and entrepreneurship, and the opioid crisis. President Englert told the committee that Temple University Police, which has the fourth largest police force in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, all carry Narcan, and have used it to save a life before.

Another notable moments from the hearing included President Englert highlighting Temple University’s first Rhodes Scholar, Hazim Hardeman. Hardeman is a first generation college graduate who grew up just blocks from main campus. Englert told the committee that success stories like Hardeman’s are all made possible due to the discounted tuition rates Temple is able to give to Pennsylvania residents as a direct result of state funding. “We provide to our full time in state undergrad students a $12,000 discount – it total $250,000,000 your 150 million appropriation leverages a significant saving for our students. without, we wouldn’t be able to give a discount to our in state students, which totals $48,000 over four years,” said Englert.

Committee Chair Senator Patrick Browne told President Englert and his colleagues from the other three institutions that although there is changing attitude in Harrisburg towards funding the state related schools, the universities should not expect to see an increase in their funding compared to the last fiscal year.

While state funding for the university is used towards education, members of the Stadium Stompers were in attendance Tuesday to ensure that their voices were heard by their representatives.

“We’re here to ensue that the elected officials of the commonwealth understand that we don’t want one dime of commonwealth dollars going towards the creation of a stadium in our community,” said Ruth Birchett, a lifelong resident of North Philadelphia. Birchett herself attended university, and still lives in the same home she grew up in. She told Temple Update she has been with the Stadium Stompers since early on in their campaign.

Another member of the organization, Jaqueline Wiggins, spoke briefly with President Englert after the hearing, and she asked if he would be attending their meeting on Thursday at George Washington Carver High School. She told us that President Englert did not plan on attending, but that she planned to attend the Temple town hall event planned for March 6 in Mitten Hall.

“We’re looking at the president of an institution who wants to build a 35,000 seat stadium in a highly residential high poverty area where the gentrification that is occurring is due in some part to Temple University students living off campus,” said Wiggins.

A Temple University spokesman told Temple Update Thursday morning that “The university is holding an informations session open to all on Tuesday. We will not be attending the protest against the university being held tonight.”

New Congressional Map Being Challenged by PA GOP

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All eyes have been on Pennsylvania this week after the state supreme court released their own version of the new congressional district maps.

2011 Pennsylvania Congressional Map

Back in 2011, a Republican majority drew the former map, which was considered one of the most gerrymandered in the entire country. Last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the map “clearly, plainly, and palpably” violated the state constitution.

The Republican majority redrew the Congressional map and sent an updated version to Governor Wolf’s desk last week, which he later rejected.

This week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released the new Pennsylvania Congressional map that is set to take effect for the May 2018 primaries. This map not only re-shapes the districts, but it also renumbers them as well. If you live in Philadelphia, you may be seeing a shake up in your district and represenation. The first district – currently held by Representative Bob Brady, no longer encompasses parts of Philadelphia. The first district is now in Bucks county, while the second, third, and fifth districts divide Philadelphia.

The new, 2018 PA Supreme Court drawn map

That poses an interesting problem for those who were running for that first district seat. Some have decided they will challenge incumbents – such as Willie Singletary – who plans to challenge Representative Dwight Evans in the second district. Other, such as Nina Ahmad – have yet to declare whether or not they plan to run.

The deadline to file for the congressional ballot has been postponed until further notice amidst the controversy over the new mapping.

Pennsylvania Republicans filed a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay on the new map – a Hail Mary that seems unlikely to be successful. Republicans appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling on the old map last month, but Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. rejected the motion.

Dr. Robin Kolodny, the Chair of the Political Science Department at Temple University, believes all eyes will be turning to the Keystone State as the primaries, and midterms approach.

“This primary season and this general election is going to be intensely focused on by national influences there will be a lot more campaigning being done especially in the southeast corner of the state.”

No word as to how the Supreme Court will rule on this latest appeal by Pennsylvania Republicans. President Trump tweeted out Tuesday he supports the GOP’s challenging of the new congressional map.

This new map is set to go into effect for the May 2018, but will not effect the March special election for the 18th district. The seat was vacated by Representative Tim Murphy (R) back in October, after he resigned from office following a sex scandal. Rick Saccone (R) and Connor Lamb (D) are running a very close race, according to the latest Monmouth University poll. Saccone sits at 49% with Lamb at 46%, with a 5.5% margin of error.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Temple Fights the Flu as Cold and Flu Season Strikes Main Campus

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It’s that time of year again…

Cold and flu season.

Last week, Temple Health released an email to students saying the flu has arrived at Temple,

Stephanie Berger, a junior, said she received the flu shot back in the fall, but she still became ill.

“It was not fun, I can tell you that. I did get checked out by Student Health Services and they confirmed it was the flu, so that kinda put a damper on my school work.”

Temple Student Health says they have seen more cases of influenza this year compared to last, but sophomore Quentin Nietz says he isn’t worried about the flu.

“Every time I get the flu shot I usually get the flu and I haven’t gotten the flu shot in the last several years and I haven’t gotten the flu.”

Temple Student Health has other suggestions to help students keep the flu at bay.

  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Keep yourself hydrated with lots of fluids
  • If your experiencing flu-like symptoms, stay home, and avoid coming In contact with people while you still have a fever.

Temple students are encouraged to visit Temple Student Health if they are feeling any flu-like symptoms, including a fever, sudden dizziness, nausea, or difficulty breathing. You can contact them at (215)-204-7500 to schedule an appointment.

Washington Reacts to Trump’s First SOTU Address

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President Trump stuck to the script for the most part on Tuesday night as he delivered his first State of the Union address.

The President spoke of his recent tax plan success, the economy, his new plan for immigration, national security, and the need for bipartisanship when it comes to infrastructure.

“Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.”

The President spoke for about 80 minutes, and received multiple standing ovations from Republicans. But not all of the ovations were reserved for President Trump.

Republican Whip Steve Scalise rose triumphantly from his seat as the President called out his name. The representative was seriously injured after shooter James Hodgkinson opened fire on a congressional baseball practice back in June. After weeks in the ICU and rehabilitation, Scalise has learned how to walk again, and still uses canes for support.

Another standing ovation was given to the parents of Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas, two young girls from Long Island who were killed by the MS-13 gang back in 2016.

But at times, the silence within the chamber was more noticeable than the applause.

Democrats remained in their seats during the President’s speech – but gave audible boos when the speech turned to immigration. Many of the Democratic women wore black in solidarity with the Me Too movement, and some donned pins with the name “Recy” on them. Recy Taylor was a young African American woman who was sexually assaulted by six white men back in 1944, and has become an icon for the movement to shed light on the horrors of sexual harassment and assault.

One powerful moment from the Democratic response came when Represenative Joe Kennedy III, spoke directly to the Dreamers who may have been watching.

“Let me be absolutely clear,” he said, “Ustedes son parte de nuestra historia. Vamos a luchar por ustedes y no nos vamos alejar.” (In English: You are part of our story. We will fight for you and we will not walk away.)

While mixed reactions from lawmakers have been floating around social media over the last 24 hours, the true success  of President Trump’s first State of the Union will be measured in time, as he hopes to pass immigration reform, infrastructure legislation, and other big ticketed policy that he campaigned on in the upcoming year.

Protestors Greet Trump at State of the Union

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President Trump’s first State of the Union address was met protests before he even arrived at the Capitol.

Protestors took over a corner of 3rd and Constitution Avenue ahead of the speech, hoping to catch a glimpse of the motorcade.

Four women, who showed up with cut out letters spelling the word ‘liar,’ told the officers keeping protestors on the sidewalk “if he drives by, don’t block our signs.”

Just minutes before the 9pm announced start, four presidential limousines made their way past the crowd, drawing large boos and chants of the twenty-fifth amendment – the amendment of impeachment.

Although the protest was peaceful, Capitol Police lined the sidewalks closest to the Capitol in riot gear. After the President passed, the group began to disperse, until a sole Trump supporter and a protestor began to exchange words. Police stepped in to prevent the incident from escalating further.

State of the Union Preview from Washington

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All eyes are on President Donald Trump ahead of his first State of the Union Address.

His last address to Congress was back in February 2017, shortly after his inauguration, but this will be his first State of the Union.

It’s expected he will talk about the immigration legislation he announced last week, which would provide the nearly 2 million DACA recipients a path to citizenship, in exchange for a border wall and the end to chain migration.

He is also expected to talk about infrastructure, the economy, and national security.

Massachussets Representative Joe Kennedy III will give the Democratic response shortly after the President’s address. It’s a symbolic choice by the Democrats, as he is seen to be a rising star within the party, and the grandson of former Attorney General Robert Kennedy and great-nephew to President John F. Kennedy.

In Washington, I sat down with local Pennsylvania Representatives Dwight Evans and Scott Perry to hear about their expectations for the speech.

PA Supreme Court Calls for New Congressional Map

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“Gerrymandering is where one political party does that – draws the lines basically – to try and give their party an advantage in the elections.”

That’s what the Pennsylvania Supreme Court says the Republican controlled state congress has done to the federal congressional district map.

And now the state Supreme Court says it “clearly, plainly and palpably violates the constitution of the Commonwealth.”

“The court basically says now you need to produce a new map and the people who are producing the new map are the same people that produced the previous, heavily partisan map,” said Professor Lee Hachadoorian, a professor of Geography and Urban Studies here at Temple University.

The current congressional district map has 18 total districts. 13 of the seats are held by Republicans – with only 5 being held by Democrats.

“President Obama carried the state you know slightly more than 50% of the vote so you might expect that the congressional seats would split 9-9 or depending on how the lines were drawn, maybe you get 10-8 or something like that. 13-5 starts looking really suspicious.”

While the United States Constitution does not specifically rule gerrymandering unconstitutional – Professor Hachadoorian says that voters’ first amendment rights are at stake.

“This case is based on free association, which is a first amendment principle and the idea that voters of the losing political party are basically having their free association rights infringed upon by virtue of being pushed into districts where their votes essentially don’t count.”

The Pennsylvania House and Senate have until February 9 to get a new map to Governor Wolf’s desk before it can go to the court. If  they do not comply – the court will take the map into its own hands – and likely go into effect for the May primaries.

Temple Update Sits Down with TSG President, Tyrell Mann-Barnes

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Tyrell Mann-Barnes prides himself on being approachable. And he wants students to know his door his always open.

Mann-Barnes and his administration have almost completed their first semester in office – and they have a lot of accomplishments under their belt.

But he says they are nowhere near done.

Mann-Barnes says his team plans to continue its crusade for a sexual assault survivor center, and that TSG is preparing to head back to Harrisburg in the spring to continue the fight for state funding.

I sat down with Tyrell to talk about his team’s early accomplishments, future endeavors, and what he hopes his legacy as Temple Student Government President will be.

Students Violently Assaulted Just Blocks From Campus

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“The first thing that comes to my mind is just you know get the hell out of here. Like run.”

Temple student Elijah Glovas-Kurtz was on his way to his car after a night class last Tuesday, when a group of four teenagers attacked him with a metal pipe.

“Right as he’s at my side he just turns around punches me in the back of the head and then the kid to his right strikes me in the head with like a metal pipe.”

His car was parked right off main campus, near 12th and Master. He was just a block from safety when the teens attacked Glovas-Kurtz the first time.

“I had this thought that I cannot believe this is happening – how is this happening why is this happening, is this a dream…I was getting attacked a block off campus for no reason,” he said.

Glovas-Kurtz was attacked three times by the group. He ran away, slipped and fell, and they caught up with him. It happened again on the 1200 Oxford Street, where a Temple bike officer witnessed the incident and called for backup. “I really think they were trying to just knock me out and take whatever I had,” said Glovas-Kurtz. The teens walked off before Temple Police arrived on scene. “You take three strikes to the head and they’re like ‘oh this kid isn’t going down.'”

Glovas-Kurtz suffered multiple blows to the head, and required nine staples in his head. Luckily, he did not suffer a concussion or any other injuries.

And he’s not the only one who has fallen victim in recent weeks.

Colin Field was leaving a party on 15th and Master just a few days prior to the assault of Glovas-Kurtz, walking with a bunch of friends when they were stopped and patted down looking for money. Field said things took a turn when the assailants made a comment to one of his female friends.

“They made the comment to her about which one of us was her boyfriend and that’s when they figured out that we were all gay they started pacing back and forth behind us following us at a rapid pace, saying hell no.”

While Field remained uninjured in the attack, his friend was not so lucky.

“They started to beat him pretty bad – he got a black eye, they tore part of his ear.”

Both Field and Gloves-Kurtz plan to remain vigilant when walking at night, and say they are ready to move forward.

“Definitely the fear is still there but I’m a commuter so I have to drive here I have to park somewhere,” said Glovas-Kurtz.

Director of Campus Safety Charles Leone told Temple Update that the two incidents were not related, but they do have one male teenager as a person of interest in the incident on 12th and Oxford. Temple and Philadelphia Police are continuing to investigate both assaults.”

Temple Police Still Searching for Sexual Assault Suspect

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Temple University students received an alert from campus security late Sunday morning after a student was sexually assaulted in a private residence around 2 AM.

The incident occurred on the 1500 block of 15th Street, and police were called about an hour and half later, according to Campus Safety Director Charles Leone.

“We can’t say with 100% certainty ‘this is the person, this is who,’ and that sort of thing, so we decided to put out a message to the community letting them know that this occurred,” said Leone.

The email detailed the suspect as a black male, standing close to six feet tall, with a full dark beard and short hair.

The incident this past weekend is the third reported to Temple Police this semester according to Leone. But this uptick in sexual assaults isn’t necessarily because they have been occurring more frequently.

“It’s hard to differentiate sometimes, are we actually seeing an increase in incidents or are we seeing an increase in reporting or a combination to both?” said Leone.

Both Temple Police and WOAR have teamed up to create online reporting services, giving students more opportunity to come forward after a trauma such as sexual assault.

Despite the increased awareness and options to report, some students are still shocked about the weekend incident.

“I was definitely shocked, you know Temple’s a pretty safe campus overall, but like the fact that things like this still happen is kind of crazy,” said Jay Mohabir.

“It’s definitely frightening, especially on Halloween weekend because everybody is out and it’s very scary,” said junior Emily Tobin.

As of now, no suspect has been taken into custody, but Leone says that Temple Police have some leads, and “someone that we’re [Temple Police] looking at that was identified.”

Anyone with any information should contact the Temple police at (215)-204-1234, or submit an anonymous online report through Temple’s Title IX coordinator.