Freely Magazine Launches with Special Event

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International students at Temple are now coming together to share their cultural experiences from home and in America in a new way.

Freely Magazine is a brand new online publication run by international and domestic students at Temple University. With a staff of forty students, Freely Magazine is focusing on showcasing the cultural backgrounds of international students. Sylvia Dao, founder of the magazine, says their content right now is focusing mainly on presenting diverse cultures to students who have yet to be exposed to them.

“Our content is basically discovering cultures, sharing your opinions, and the purpose of debunking stereotypes.”

To launch their magazine, the Freely staff hosted a photo exhibit titled ‘A Piece from Home,’ showcasing the work of ten different photographers from all over the world. Students from Congo, China, Romania, Poland, and more displayed their photographs accompanied by short biographies about their experiences at home and coming to Temple.

Dr. Hai-Lung Dai, Vice President for International Affairs, and Nelson Diaz, Temple Board of Trustees Member, both praised the students involved for taking the initiative to popularize the international student’s perspective at such a large scale. Diaz is in full support of bridging the gap between international and domestic students.

“We have to figure out how we reach the rest of this institution so they realize how important international students are to the future not only of the university, but to the future of America.”

The staff writers and photographers hope to expand this intercultural initiative to impact as many students as possible, both in the Temple community and in the greater Philadelphia area.

“I think it’s like a really incredible idea just to bridge this culture gap between international students and domestic students,” stated Keilon Rachford-Hawkins, Vice Director for Freely Magazine Public Relations, and international student from Trinidad and Tobago.

Visit Freely Magazine’s website here for more information.

Live From London: An Update on the Westminster Attack

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Our London correspondent Alexa Ross reports live from London with an update after a car was driven into a crowd at the Westminster Bridge. He managed to fatally stab another victim before he was shot and killed by British authorities. British Police identified 52-year old Khalid Masood as the assailant in the attack on the British Parliament. Alexa was at the Westminster Bridge just 24 hours before the attacks, working on another story for Temple Update. *Special thanks to her videographer, Matt Rego.

Masood drove a grey SUV into a crowd of people on the Westminster Bridge, one of who was rescued from the river. The car crashed into the gates of the Palace of Westminster, while Parliament was in session, and fatally stabbed a police officer in the palace courtyard. Armed guards shot and killed Masood on the spot. Temple University student Abby Markle, a junior film major studying abroad in London this semester, was near the Westminster Bridge at the time of Masood’s attack. This is her account of the incident.

“I got off the bus stop at Westminster Abbey to do a delivery in the park…I saw a couple people start to get in a fight and I just kept walking because I thought people were fighting because that what happens … As soon as I got back to my internship and back on wifi I realized what had
happened…There was a second I was in the park and I took a slight step back and I fixed myself and if I didn’t take that one step back, I could have been the person who was pushed or attacked or hurt… It’s unbelievable but then you have to face it because you’re literally there and it was just a lot to come out of that and be like okay I’m still ok….”
Temple has reached out to all of it’s students studying abroad in London and all have been confirmed safe.

TSG Campaigns for 2017-18 Underway

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Temple Student Government campaign season is underway. This year, two teams are running to be named the highest student body representatives – Activate TU and Connecting TU announced their runs this week.

Temple Update’s Taggart Houck moderated a debate alongside Temple New’s Julie Christie on March 23. The two hour debate included questions from the audience using #TSGRound1. Some of the questions included where each campaign stood on the issue of an on-campus stadium, sexual assault resources, and issues concerning food services at Temple.

Both teams spoke about expanding services for sexual assault survivors on campus and expanding campus safety services like the walking escort program, while the possible on-campus stadium which was a hot topic during last year’s debate was only mentioned in the Activate TU platform. Connecting TU did not take a stance on the issue.

Activate TU is led by Tyrell Mann-Barnes, a junior studying English and Biology, but outside of classes, he’s been involved as a resident assistant and an Owl Ambassador at the university.

Ari Abramson is leading the charge for Connecting TU. He is a Management Information Systems student in the Fox School of Business, and their website says he’s worked with several groups at Temple University to develop and expand Jewish programming.

Activate TU’s Tyrell is joined by Paige Hill and Kayla Martin. Hill is running to be the Vice President of External Affairs, while Martin will take the Vice President of Services.

Connecting TU’s Vice President of External Affairs would be Shiven Shah, while Dalia Al-Bataineh will be the Vice President of Services.

You can find Activate TU’s platform here. Connecting TU’s platform is available here.

Noah Goff, Elections Commission, will host the next debate, scheduled for Monday, April 3 at 5:00 p.m. in room 200C of the Student Center.

Board of Trustees Halt Plans to Increase Meal Plan Prices

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Temple’s Board of Trustees voted last Tuesday to increase meal plan prices by 6 percent. Temple’s Chief Financial Officer, Ken Kaiser said this increase was mostly due to the soda tax, which he expects to cost the university $400,000.

Temple Update reached out to Kaiser multiple times, but he declined to comment.

Mayor Kenney. however, was quick to respond to these allegations by issuing this statement:

“Universities across the country have been raising meal plan fees because families are increasingly chaffing at tuition increases and universities still want to pay for their ever-growing administrative salaries and new, expensive buildings and amenities. Temple’s own administration staff has grown by 40 percent in recent years, they are planning to build a multi-million dollar stadium, their new 24 story dorm includes flat screen TVs, and, sure enough, they have a history of raising their meal plans fees to cover those costs – by 2.5 percent in 2015 and 4.3 percent in 2014.”

That’s what brought the hikes to a halt. Temple University responded with this statement:

“In the wake of the Board’s action, the City and Mayor Kenney have appropriately raised valid concerns about the accuracy of the numbers related to the impact of the soda tax on Temple students who choose the university’s room and board plan for 2017-18. For this reason, the University will review the calculation and impact of the soda tax before enacting the meal plan fee for the coming year. We note in this regard that the soda tax accounts for approximately $68 of the proposed meal plan fee of $1,444.
Finally, we want to make it clear that the University enthusiastically supports the Mayor’s program to expand quality pre-K opportunities for children in Philadelphia. This critically important program is already providing benefits to approximately 1,800 children from every neighborhood, and its objective is directly in line with Temple’s mission to make a quality education accessible to every child.”
The Mayor then commended Temple for agreeing to reconsider the effects of the soda tax.
Some students, however, are still worried. Sophomore Bridget Warlea said any increase would put a strain on her family. “I think it’s really ludicrous that it’s not fair. Especially since we weren’t at the table to make these decisions,” she said.
TSG President Aron Cohen is trying to calm some of these fears. “The average student will pay $68 in taxes due to the soda tax, but if you’re on a 10 meal plan versus a premium meal plan, obviously that will vary, so we’re not charging every student the same fixed dollar amount,” he said.
The Board of Trustees will vote on this topic again, so be sure to stay with Temple  Update for more on this developing story.

Philadelphia New Pre-K Program Dependent on Beverage Tax Funds

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The City of Philadelphia’s Revenue Department has announced that they’ve collected about $6.4 million in the month of February from the sugary beverage tax. That amount is up $5 million from the first month that the tax was implemented in January of 2017.

While the beverage tax continues to cause controversy among both distributors and consumers, many may not know that the city’s new pre-K program is dependent on the revenue from that tax alone.

There are currently close to 2,000 kids enrolled in the free program within 88 locations around the city.

Deputy Director of Pre-K Mary Strasser says the program has had a major impact on families whose average income is around $34,000 a year, but don’t always qualify for subsidy childcare.

“Mothers and dads are going back to work because they have this great opportunity to have their kids in a safe, educational environment while they’re at work,” Strasser said.

Out of the nearly 2,000 children enrolled, there are about 20 kids in the classroom at the RW Brown Community Center in North Philadelphia.

Director Tiffany Thorpe says the program has given those children opportunities they’ve never had before.

“The kids are going on trips. The kids are learning things. They’re seeing things that they normally wouldn’t see,” Thorpe said. “(The taxes) are paying for books and materials for these kids, educational toys that they wouldn’t have. Technologies…our classes have iPads. You know, it’s things like that that these kids wouldn’t have access to.”

Thorpe made sure to stress the impact the program has not only had on children, but the community as well.

She says parents now have access to resources within the community center such as GED classes and volunteer work. The center has also been able to hire parents of children that attend the class.

Those are just some of the benefits that Strasser wants to shed light on. The city has hired nearly 250 employees at the pre-k sites, and was also able to raise wages for staff.

“The fact that this is an economic engine in some of our poorest communities and neighborhoods is really a wonderful thing,” Strasser said.

Both Strasser and Thorpe believe the negative perception of the beverage tax has the potential to change.

“I don’t think that people would really be upset if they knew that this money is helping us,” Thorpe said.

The city plans to add 1,000 more seats by September of this year, but that amount hangs in the balance due to the lawsuit from the American Beverage Association. However the city plans to stand firm behind their goal of having 6500 kids enrolled over the next five years.

Housing Costs: The Peabody Effect

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The Board of Trustees recently approved a new contract that will increase on-campus housing for students by 3%. These changes come as a result of the closing of Temple’s oldest and cheapest dorm Peabody Hall.

Incoming students like Nicole Slinin, are still excited about living on campus in light of the price increase. “It means that more people want to come here,” she said.

However, not all students are as excited about having to pay more to stay on campus, because they say housing is already expensive. “The price of housing is already ridiculously high and more than..if you live off campus,” said Alyssa Ritsau, a resident of Morgan Hall. Ritsaus says that students pay more to share a room with someone on-campus than if they were to get a room to themselves off-campus.

The rising cost of housing both on and off campus has encouraged many students to commute.

“I know so many commuters and it’s just because they can’t afford the on campus housing,” said Kendal Swilling, a resident at Peabody Hall. “It separates you from the whole community and from being in Philadelphia and its not right.” she said.

A representative from the university stated today that “…These agreements are not unusual for Temple, which has demand for housing that exceeds its supply.”

Temple Rome Anniversary Brings Weeklong Food Celebration to Main Campus

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Temple University is celebrating 50 years of Temple Rome with a week-long food themed celebration hosted by the Education Abroad office from.

“Well of course food is Italian tradition, Italian culture, and it seemed like a great way to celebrate Temple University Rome’s 50th and also a way that the full university community could take advantage,” Denise Connerty, Assistant Vice President for Education Abroad and Overseas Campuses said.

The celebration started with the event “Tasting Rome” at Melograno Restaurant, a restaurant owned by Temple University alum Marie Tran and her husband, Chef Gianluca Demontis. Tran met her husband while studying abroad in Rome through Temple. They served an authentic Italian dish, and all proceeds collected will benefit the Temple Rome Scholarship Fund.

Another event in the celebration was Food Truck Festa. Alumni-owned food trucks served and highlighted Italian dishes at the Bell Tower. Music was played and attendees got the opportunity to find out more information on study abroad opportunities.

“I just like how there are a lot of food trucks I haven’t tried, so it’s nice to go around and see what they have and taste different things,” Temple junior Mina Tatar said.

The week will conclude with a night of networking at the Fox School of Business with members of Professionisti Italiani a Philadelphiaand fried artichoke food sampling. Senior, Kayla Karp will also present her project: 3,000 years in the making: The Story of Jews in Rome which is a project she started while studying abroad in Rome last year.

“We’re given our education and we are given the opportunity to have these classes and have these lessons, but very few times do we take advantage, and turn that opportunity into our ability to do something. I want to share with other students and other professionals that we have to take that step,” Karp said.

The celebration does not end here. This May, Temple University will host another week packed event to celebrate the anniversary at Temple Rome’s campus. For more information on Temple Rome and study abroad opportunities through Temple University click here.

New Campus Organization Looks to Help Refugee Community

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A brand new organization is doing it’s part to bring awareness of refugee issues to the students of Temple University.

Temple Refugee Outreach began as a collaboration between students who were exposed to refugee issues when they studied abroad last spring at Temple Rome. MacKenzie Bonner and Katie Pfeil both interned with the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, and decided that their work in Rome was something that could be beneficial to Temple students, as well as the local community.

“We both really just had a very impactful experience and [we] thought a lot of students at Temple would benefit from something similar,” said Pfeil, Vice President of Temple Refugee Outreach.

Pfeil is currently working with SEAMAAC, the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition, who’s mission is to “to support immigrants, refugees, and their families as they seek access to opportunities, which would advance the condition of their lives in the United States.” As TRO continues to grow, they hope to pair students with organizations like SEAMAAC across the city, such as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Nationalities Service Center, and Puentes Hacia el Futuro.

According to their website, Temple Refugee Outreach’s main goal is to “provide and promote a better understanding of the global refugee crisis and to bring to light the challenges of individuals and families displaced from their home country due to fear of harm and/or persecution.” They plan to bring awareness through community service events as well as discussion panels at their weekly meetings on Wednesdays at 8pm in Anderson Hall, room 26.

“The refugee crisis sounds like this big distant thing, but its happening right in our community, and its people and families, and once you start to build those relationships and think of it as ‘my friend so and so’ it’s not this far away big thing, its personal.”

TRO plans to observe a Refugee Awareness Week in early April with an Artisan Fair amongst other events on campus. You can find out more about TRO on their social media pages, or find them on OwlConnect.

Temple Hopes to Hit Recycling Goals

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Recycle Mania is a ten week-long nationwide competition between colleges and universities to reduce the most waste on their campuses and increase campus recycling rates.

Temple is competing in the total recycling division, where the university is ranked number #2 in Pennsylvania,  and plans to make a goal of 350,000 pounds of recyclables this year. With weeks left in the competition, the university is a little less than half way to its goal.

The university set an ambitious goal this year, but has already performed better in the tournament this year than it did last year.

On March 30th, next Thursday, from 1pm to 5pm, the Office of Sustainability will be hosting a Dumpster & Waste Audit that will feature the artwork of Megan Clement at the Bell Tower. Clement won a design contest held by the office, and while she is painting the dumpster event. participants will simultaneously pick through the dumpster to find recyclable materials.

Emily E Cornuet, Recycling Coordinator, says that one of her goals for the Office of Sustainability this year is to get recycling bins into every residence hall room on campus. Currently, there are recycling bins in about 2,200 rooms, which make up just about half of campus. She also wants to continue to engage as many Temple University students as possible.

Cornuet and Kathleen Grady, Director of Sustainability, both emphasized how small and simple behavioral changes can make a big difference. They both recommended that students begin by simply using reusable water bottles and coffee mugs. Not only does the use of these items reduce waste, but they also offer an opportunity to save money.

Cornuet says, “Reducing waste is always better than creating more recyclable materials.”

The Office of Sustainability also has the Temple Office Supply Swap Program. This is a program that collects donations of old office supplies around campus and makes them available for reuse by students and faculty.

Cornuet reaffirms that, “Reuse is a huge thing that we’re trying to push” at the Office of Sustainability.