Temple Socialist Students condemns the recent opening of O’Connor Plaza. Not only is the project a waste of resources used to further a vanity project –intended to feed the ego of Temple’s Board of Trustees Chair– it honors a man whose “contributions” to the community include gentrification, union-busting, and defending rapists.
The actions of Patrick O’Connor reflect the actions of Temple University and vice versa. Temple’s mishandling of sexual assault and its reluctance to make significant changes should come as no surprise when the man at the helm of Temple University has defended Bill Cosby from facing justice. O’Connor’s law firm, Cozen O’Connor, proudly advertises its services as legal provocateurs, attacking workers trying to unionize.
O’Connor brings these anti-worker and anti-democratic practices to Temple, fighting tooth and nail against attempts by Temple workers in the struggle for better wages and working conditions. Finally, there is the question of the Temple Stadium, and the racist gentrification policies that it represents. O’Connor has worked tirelessly to drive out the existing North Philadelphia community to make room for development that aims to personally enrich himself and the one percent.
While O’Connor uses his position to fatten his own pockets at the expense of others, he uses Temple’s funds to build monuments to himself while tuition continues to skyrocket and adjuncts wait for a raise. Tuition and state tax dollars should be funding education, not Patrick O’Connor’s ego. Temple’s hundreds of millions in construction expenditures are used on many aesthetic projects, like repairing the Bell Tower, replacing a perfectly good Paley library, and of course O’Connor plaza, while many departments at Temple suffer from budget deficits. This is not only fiscal irresponsibility, but fiscal absurdity.
Patrick O’Connor is not a friend of North Philadelphia, nor students and Temple employees; he is the Donald Trump of Temple University. Patrick O’Connor is anti-woman, anti-black, and anti-worker. He does not belong at Temple University and his name does not belong on Founder’s Garden.
- Patrick O’Connor must immediately resign and leave Temple University.
- O’Connor Plaza should be renamed after someone who has made a positive contribution to North Philadelphia and/or Temple University.
- Abolish the Board of Trustees’ undemocratic structure and replace it with a democratically elected body made up of Temple employees, students, and community members.