Temple University stadium proposed while surrounding neighborhood in crisis

Temple University stadium proposed while surrounding neighborhood in crisis

J Leslie

The proposed construction of a $100 million Temple University football stadium has caused a stir on campus and in the surrounding community.  Temple’s expansion in recent years has caused the displacement of residents in this majority African-American and working class neighborhood. Housing prices have risen significantly (median home prices rose from about $17,000 to $100,000) and more Temple students have moved to rental properties near campus. The North Philadelphia neighborhood surrounding Temple’s campus has unemployment rates ranging as high as 50% and a high poverty rate. Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty of any major US city.

The hiring of minority and women workers is extremely important when the question of stadium construction is raised. As construction on the Temple campus has boomed, with new residence halls and classroom buildings being built, the work has mostly been done by mostly white building trades’ union members from the suburbs, while an inadequate number of jobs have been given to workers from the surrounding community.  The community has a right to demand that these well-paying jobs go to people who live in the neighborhood.

The stadium, which would be built through a combination of corporate fundraising and public financing would mean the disruption of the surrounding neighborhood. North Philadelphia residents, who already have a contentious relationship with the university, have not been consulted in any way about the stadium plan. Many nearby residents fear that they will lose the Amos Recreation Center, which provides after school programs, a basketball court and swimming pool to neighborhood kids. The rec center is in the middle of the 4-block area that would house the new arena. Many predict that the already congested parking situation in the area surrounding the campus will only get much worse.

Adjunct faculty voting on union representation/tuition rises

On November 9, 2015, approximately 1100 Temple adjunct faculty will vote on union representation. Adjuncts had voted in favor of a union in 2014, only to have Temple administration challenge the vote before the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB). In September, the PLRB dismissed Temple’s objections and ordered a new vote. Unionization would mean job security, decent benefits and a living wage for instructors who have struggled to survive in a precarious environment. While faculty and other staff are underpaid, tuition and fees have skyrocketed over the past few years. In July, Temple’s board of trustees approved a 2.8 percent increase in tuition, as well as an additional $100 in fees, for the coming year. This means that in state students will pay $15,188 in 2015-16, an increase of almost $500. When you add housing and meals, the total cost for an in-state student more than $25,000. Out of state student will pay $25,494 in tuition and fees. Housing and meals will raise this expense to more than $35,000.

Does Temple need a stadium?

The Temple football team currently uses the Philadelphia Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field for home games. Rather than spending millions on a new 35,000 seat stadium that will sit empty much of the time, we should be asking what we could accomplish with $100 million. In a neighborhood that is plagued by unemployment and substandard housing, this money could be spent to provide jobs at living wages and to rebuild a deteriorated neighborhood. Adjunct faculty, as well as contract employees, should be paid a living wage with decent benefits.

Rebuild North Philly and make the university affordable for all!

Socialists demand that education be made free and accessible to all. The perverted social priorities of capitalism make getting an education harder to achieve, while corporations and the rich get subsidies for their yachts and summer homes. A rational society based on providing human needs would rebuild Philadelphia’s broken infrastructure and revitalize our neighborhoods.  A society based on social justice would tax the rich and end imperialist wars overseas and put those resources to work at home. Of course, taxing the rich is not a long term solution. In order to achieve real justice and democracy, the rule of the bosses has to be replaced with the democratic rule of the working class.

The Democratic Party and its Wall Street allies have presided over the decline of Philadelphia, while demonizing the poor and oppressed. The road forward is a mass struggle based on the independent mobilization of students, the community, the unions, and university instructors demanding free education, jobs at union wages, healthcare, and the reconstruction of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods with democratic input and control. This also means that working people must break with the Democratic Party and build their own political party – a party that fights in the interests of the oppressed and exploited.

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