To the Temple community:
George Floyd’s fatal encounter with police has stirred shock, horror, anger and sadness. We share the outrage and frustration at the repeated incidents of brutal and unlawful violence against black people at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. We are appalled by what we have seen, and remain committed to work for racial justice.
Recognizing that our efforts must go beyond what we say, and must include what we do, members of the Temple community will continue to work for racial equity by
- providing resources and instruction that foster a better understanding of race and racism;
- monitoring our own policies and practices for evidence of racial bias and responding to complaints of discrimination;
- advocating for antiracist policies at the local, state and federal levels; and
- engaging in service to marginalized communities.
You have our unwavering commitment to support this important work.
Our commitment to student and community safety
Over the past several days, we have received hundreds of messages expressing anger and disappointment at racist comments on social media from incoming and current students and the university’s response to those comments. Make no mistake, these racist statements are repugnant. We are as disgusted by these comments as are those of you who took the time to write to us or post your thoughts on social media.
It is true that as a public university Temple is bound by the principles of freedom of speech embodied in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. However, the safety and well-being of the Temple community are paramount and the university can and does respond to this revolting tide of bigotry and hatred in a variety of ways. We will continue to strongly condemn such language and uphold our basic values. Our Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students will meet with each and every one of those who has issued such statements. We will continue to review the statements in the context of the Student Code of Conduct to ensure that students who engage in intimidation, harassment, threats of violence and other violations of our conduct standards are held accountable. And we will continue to do what a university does so well: educate all members of our community, provide programs and forums for the debate of ideas, and infuse our curriculum with opportunities to interact in productive ways with a diversity of ideas and cultures.
The university also has received a number of requests from current and former students for Temple to discontinue all ties with the Philadelphia Police Department. We do not believe that doing so would be in the best interest of Temple students, faculty and staff, and our neighbors in the surrounding community. Shared responsibilities and patrols among the Temple Police Department, our Allied Universal security partners and the Philadelphia Police Department help keep us safe by providing effective layers of service and protection for the Temple community and residents in nearby neighborhoods. For example, the relationship between Temple University and the Philadelphia Police Department allows Temple Police access to the city’s computer-aided dispatch system (911), which enables a more efficient response to emergency calls.
However, we were extremely disturbed by the violent treatment of a Temple student by a Philadelphia Police officer during a recent off-campus protest. We have reached out to the student and will continue to support him throughout this process.
We recognize this moment requires us to recommit to policing activities and practices outlined below that we believe work to rebuild public trust.
- New Temple Police officers will continue to receive training in recognizing and avoiding bias and discrimination in policing. Ongoing training will continue to be provided for all other Temple officers.
- We will build on our work with Governor Wolf and Mayor Kenney to advocate for the adoption of recommendations from President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing for state and local law enforcement organizations. We are pleased to report that both the governor and mayor have announced law enforcement initiatives that follow the Task Force recommendations.
- We have asked Temple’s Vice President for Student Affairs, Theresa Powell, to organize meetings with student leaders, the Philadelphia Police Department leadership and Temple Police to discuss student concerns.
Temple has responded to and will continue to respond to complaints of discrimination, harassment or bias from any member of the Temple community regarding their dealings with Temple Police, Allied Universal or the Philadelphia Police Department. Complaints can be made confidentially through the university’s Ethics and Compliance Helpline either online or by calling 844-755-3394.
Ensuring our actions translate into meaningful opportunities for racial equity: building a bridge for Philadelphia’s school children
As an educational institution, we solve problems through the myriad efforts of our faculty, staff and students. They are engaged in research, teaching and service to dismantle racist policies, such as those that result in funding Pennsylvania’s public schools in a way that disadvantages black children. As we continue to advocate for an equitable funding system that guarantees the same quality public education for all school children regardless of ZIP code, Temple will continue to stand in the gap.
The university currently supports more than a dozen programs that bring resources to public schools in North Philadelphia. We will continue to invest in existing programs such as academic enrichment for middle school students, college counseling, mentoring and college scholarship opportunities. We are pleased to announce that the university will add a high school academic enrichment component and summer bridge experience for entering first-year students who live in neighborhoods around Temple’s North Philadelphia campuses. We will work with area principals to identify students for these programs.
Raising awareness of university initiatives
We will actively engage in a campaign to ensure that families in our community know how to take advantage of the many resources and services provided by Temple faculty, staff and students. Temple’s College of Education, for example, makes serving the needs of our community schools and neighborhoods a key part of its mission through the following programs.
- Experiential Learning through Community Partnerships that the College of Education has formed with more than 25 institutions and organizations, Temple students serve in Philadelphia communities as teachers, mentors and youth program coordinators. To learn more, explore the college’s Office of Field Placements.
- Family Friends is an intergenerational program that connects older adult volunteers who have experience, wisdom and time to share with children and families who may be feeling overwhelmed and isolated.
- Temple’s GEAR UP program provides academic success and college exploration for students and families in its partner schools. The program works together with several organizations and universities to provide college awareness and readiness support to students and families.
- The Grandma’s Kids program targets children in kinship placement, informal care and foster care. The program serves children who are low-income, at-risk of violence and disparities that can mitigate their academic progress.
- A national early education organization, Jumpstart recruits and trains college students to work with preschool children in low-income neighborhoods, setting them on a path to close the achievement gap before it begins.
- TempleCares Bridge to Employment is a workforce development program that provides professional development, industry recognized credentials and paid work experiences to North Philadelphia youth ages 17–21 who are interested in entering the healthcare industry.
- The Temple Education Scholars Dual Enrollment Program is a yearlong program, designed for college-bound high school seniors to take a full semester’s worth of education courses at Temple University. Students engage deeply in coursework to earn college credit that will apply to a variety of two- and four-year colleges and universities, including a bachelor’s degree at Temple from the College of Education.
- An intergenerational model, Time Out connects college students with older adults, especially those with dementia, to provide companionship and give respite to caregivers.
- Temple’s Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math & Science programs prepare Philadelphia Public and Charter High School students for admission to institutions of higher learning and success in the collegiate environment through intense academic enrichment, a summer college immersion experience, enhanced cognitive and critical thinking, and extensive interpersonal development through positive social interactions.
Temple University’s Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative strengthens the earning potential of local community residents by providing job training and career readiness programs that lead to sustainable employment. Temple Hospital will continue its commitment to the health and well-being of underserved communities. Similar community-based initiatives are being conducted by other schools, colleges and administrative units throughout the university. The university’s Institutional Diversity Equity Advocacy and Leadership staff remains available as a resource for training and guidance in matters involving racial justice.
We include this partial list of activities not to suggest that we have completed our responsibilities, but to make it clear how much Temple cares, how vastly we see our opportunity to contribute, and how deeply we view ourselves as a partner in supporting our community. This past week has reminded all of us just how much work remains to be done. We invite you to learn more about the ways that you can get involved. Please contact the Office of Community Relations for more information about new and ongoing ways to take action. The task is not easy, but it is important. We’re rolling up our sleeves and we are counting on you to do the same and join us in what may be some of the most important work of our lives.
Richard M. Englert
JoAnne A. Epps
Executive Vice President and Provost
Kevin G. Clark
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer