Temple students came together in the form of a town hall Friday, June 13th to protest the university’s latest statements on racial injustice in Philadelphia and within the Temple community. The organizers goal was to get the student body’s opinion though to the university.
One of the organizers, Andreya Anderson, a senior Psychology major, spoke about why she and her friends wanted to organize a protest, “This Black Lives Matter movement is going on so we need to do something for our campus so we have a face too. So that we matter and our voices matter and our safety is taken into consideration.”
Another one of the organizers, Tahjanae Nichols, a senior Psychology major, spoke about why they decided to make the protest a town hall forum, “The whole purpose is really for us to hear different voices. I know what I want to do, but like someone could have a different idea, a different approach, because we all got to be on this campus come August 24th.”
When talking about the expectation of the university and expectation of the forum Nichols said, “[The university is] prepping us to go off in life. We’re prepping you to be even better citizens, an even better person.”
After students voiced their opinions in front of their peers, they marched and chanted along the perimeter of the Bell Tower along North 12th, West Montgomery, and North 13th streets. One of the chants included a different version Temple’s Fight song in which they said: “Cherry and White, we’re going to fight.”
Sophomore Aly Camara, an Accounting major and Temple student athlete, wanted to clarify a positive way to make a change, “Taking action against hateful speech doesn’t mean violence. It means reporting someone, it means giving them knowledge when they need it.”
Many of the students at the forum saw President Englert’s email but don’t believe it was enough and they’re calling for further action from the university.
Sophomore Shawn Aleong spoke in front of the group and said, “We can’t afford to be silenced,” in response to Temple’s statements.
When Anderson read the email she felt little was said about the community surrounding Temple’s campus, “I feel as though you should take into consideration the people and the community you’re inhabiting…I feel like he didn’t really pay any mind to that.”
Elaina Graca, a senior Photography major, believes hiring more staff and faculty of color would help students feel more represented on campus, “Whenever it’s time to hire your faculty, think about the students that are coming here and think about why they’re coming here…You come to see the color. And I don’t see that and I don’t feel represented in it and it makes me feel invalidated a lot of the time.”
Some of the demonstrators are seeing the protests and looking ahead to the future with hope.
Juliette Barasch, a junior Political Science and Film and Media Arts major, believes, “There’s a lot of potential for serious, radical fundamental change on this campus. I mean, the fact that all of this came out here and the larger work that people are doing in Philly, I’m very optimistic.“
Camara emphasized that change isn’t going to happen overnight, “Things aren’t fine–we just got used to it. This is not what’s normal, it’s only become normal to us….Changes isn’t gonna happen today or tomorrow. It’s not gonna happen right away. It happens slowly over time. And the more and more we take the right approach, then we could have change because I feel like there are steps to change. We just have to take those steps and not skip any steps.”
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