On Wednesday, February 3, Temple students and neighborhood residents could hear rounds of gunshots being fired in the direct perimeter of Temple’s campus. On 18th and Montgomery, an armed robbery of three intruders took place at around 6 p.m. As police went to break up the home invasion, the intruders began shooting at the police outside, who then returned fire. Two of the three men were immediately caught trying to flee out the back entrance, with one escaping. Above our homes, the only thing you could hear were sirens and helicopters; search lights lit up the streets around our house. The third intruder was finally found hiding behind a charter school in the area.
That was only the first shootout in the Temple University community though. About three hours later, a highway patrol unit attempted to pull over a car with stolen tags. The driver of the stolen vehicle then backed up into the officers, pinning them briefly before taking off. The next round of open fire began when officers had to shoot the man five times in the leg to stop him. Where did this take place? 16th and Oxford. For those of you who are Temple students, you recognize this area because it is right next to “Oxford Village,” a Temple off-campus housing unit.
Yes, violence happens in all areas of Philadelphia. No, Temple University could not do anything to prevent these dangerous situations from happening. But yes, the university administrators did prove that they either did not want to associate themselves with the violence (they are trying to clean up the image of Temple being in a “scary” neighborhood), or perhaps that their emergency communication is not up to par.
According to Temple’s Emergency Preparedness site:
Temple University’s campus emergency notification system has been developed to create the safest possible environment for the campus community. Effective and reliable mass notification has become a fundamental aspect of university security. Ensuring the safety of our campus community and students is vital. Temple University’s Emergency Communication Plan should help to ensure a comprehensive, coordinated approach to communications that will:
- Disseminate clear and accurate information to interested constituencies and the public at large
- Assist in the management of crises
- Provide direction to faculty, staff, and students
- Reduce rumor and uncertainty
This sounds great, except more than 24 hours after the violent night began, not one mention has been made from the university regarding the dangerous environment in which Temple University students populate. The “TU Alert” is sent via e-mail, text message and voicemail; e-mails from Campus Safety have been sent about smaller things than this in the past. Still, no recognition that a violent shootout happened. Students who were in night class and had to walk home had no idea the peril they may be in.
Luckily no students were hurt last night, but had a TU Alert been sent, students would have either known to have a friend walk them home or even get a campus police escort.
All in all, Temple University failed at their “coordinated approach to communications” to put the safety of their students first. Because of one unsent e-mail, students in the area and parents alike are in an uproar. More importantly, trust in the emergency alert system has diminished. If a violent robbery and shooting was not important enough for Temple to send an alert, what is?
I love Temple and am a huge advocate for the university and the opportunities it provides, but I am not impressed with the lack of communication on Wednesday night. What are your thoughts?