Temple steps in to help in student emergencies
It’s probably the most common student complaint lobbed at Temple: The University, like all large institutions, can be an unnavigable maze when a student has a problem.
On several occasions last semester, however, Temple responded with impressive speed to catastrophes that left off-campus students homeless and in need of food, books or clothing.
“I see Temple in a new light,” said Katie Daugherty, a junior who lost her North Broad Street apartment on Nov. 4 to an early-morning fire. “They helped me in ways I can’t ever repay.”
Drowsy and underdressed, Daugherty and six other Temple students who lived in the building shivered together that night on the sidewalk with temperatures in the low 40s. Within minutes, though, Temple police officers were on the scene and transporting the displaced students to Campus Safety Services’ headquarters on Main Campus.
“Temple was absolutely amazing,” Daugherty said. “As soon as they identified us as Temple students, they took us under their wing.”
At 8 a.m. that day, Dean of Students Ainsley Carry met the students for breakfast in the Johnson and Hardwick cafeteria. His first priority was ensuring that all the students’ parents had been notified, followed by assembling a list of each student’s needs. From there, Carry and his staff convened the University’s emergency response team, a core group of administrators from University Housing, Tuttleman Counseling Services and Campus Safety Services.
“When emergencies like this occur, we ask, ‘What do these students need right away to get back on their feet?’” Carry said. “Then, we go to work as fast as possible to bring Temple’s resources to bear for these students.”
By noon, the emergency response team had pooled resources to help the students recover and continue their studies unimpeded. During a lunch with students and their parents, students received the following:
• University Housing offered rooms on campus, at no charge, for 10 days, after which the students could continue residing there at a reduced rate for the remainder of the semester. Its Off-Campus Living Office also agreed to help them find apartments.
• Dining Services provided vouchers for 20 meals to each student.
• The campus bookstore contributed more than $1,000 for the students to replace their books and school supplies.
• Tuttleman Counseling Services talked to them about coping with the tragedy.
• Carry mailed letters to each student’s professors, explaining the crisis and asking them to accommodate the students as they regained their footing.
• Vice President for Student Affairs Theresa Powell and Senior Vice President Clay Armbrister provided money to cover basic expenses.
• Capt. Eileen Bradley, through the help of Temple University Hospital, secured toiletries and other necessities for the students.
• Facilities Management offered a van to haul the items that could be salvaged from the fire, and students could store their belongings with University Housing.
“Temple was most helpful in gathering all of the important people [who needed] notification of our status, so that we did not have to worry about making contact,” said Daugherty, who added that all of her professors were “ready to help me in any way.”
Though they weren’t in immediate danger like Daugherty and her housemates, two Temple upperclassmen had a similar scare at the start of the semester when their apartment in the Spring Garden area was demolished in a building collapse.
One of the students, Courtney Ignarri, said she learned of the damage at 1 p.m., while she was on campus. Three hours later, she and her roommate and their parents met with Temple’s emergency response team about their options for recovery.
“Temple was very generous in this situation,” said Ignarri, who was able to salvage just a few items from the rubble of her apartment. “It’s not like it was Temple’s fault, so there wasn’t that expectation that they had to do something. They went out of their way to make sure that we had what we needed, and we really did need help because we had nothing.”
Carry stressed that not all students who experience hardship will qualify for support from the emergency response team. The resources, he said, are reserved for students who are crippled by catastrophic losses that leave them without shelter, food, clothing or other necessities. In fact, Temple maintains an Emergency Student Aid Fund for students facing unforeseen, small-scale crises.
“We are the first responders who help life get back to normal as soon as possible for these students, but we’re not long-term providers,” he said.
Carry added that Temple cannot stand by idly during student emergencies.
“In situations like this, it’s our responsibility to take the lead and help students figure out what they need and tap into Temple’s resources,” Carry said. “I’ve been most struck by how readily everyone at the University stepped forward and was prepared to help in some way. There were individuals and departments here ready to drop everything and help.”
- By Ted Boscia
Hardship fund aids students in need
|In addition to its system for assisting students who have suffered catastrophic losses, Temple maintains a relief fund for students who encounter unforeseen economic hardships during the academic year.
The Emergency Student Aid Fund is derived entirely from donations to the annual Temple Way Workplace Campaign, which continues through March 31. Overseen by David Broadus, director of finance and administration for the Division of Student Affairs, the fund typically activates when students demonstrate a financial need because of a job loss, medical emergency or family crisis that limits their ability to pay tuition or buy basic necessities. Students must apply for the funds in person at 402 Conwell Hall and can only qualify once per year.
“The fund helps students who might need a little financial boost to keep their heads above level, stay successful and remain in school,” said Broadus, who usually receives 200 student requests each year, of which 70 percent are granted. The maximum award is capped this year at $75, but in past years it has reached $400.
Broadus said he also points students in need of assistance to campus resources that can help alleviate their burdens, such as Student Health Services, Tuttleman Counseling Services or Career Development Services.
“I believe in not only providing students with the sandwich, but also teaching them how to cook,” he said.
Temple Way donations may be earmarked for the Emergency Student Aid Fund and 10 other community causes. For more information about giving, see your campaign representative or visit www.temple.edu/templeway.
- Ted Boscia