PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Hundreds of Temple University students protested with a march through campus which ended at the Bell Tower on Tuesday, calling for more safety on campus following the death of a Temple police officer.
The death of Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald on campus is only the tip of the iceberg. According to students, assaults and robberies on or near campus have pushed people to demand change.
"We always have our guard elevated. We're always keeping our eyes in motion, always keeping our head on a swivel, always aware of our surroundings because you just never know," stated Nate Weinberg, a sophomore at Temple.
Weinberg is one of the organizers of the protest. He and his fellow classmates asked for a change in leadership, improved campus safety, affordable on-campus housing, and more support for Temple police.
"One thing that stands true for Temple students and North Philadelphia community members and residents is that we all deserve to feel safe," said Weinberg.
Organizers said they declined an offer to meet with university leaders before the protest. Instead, they will meet on Thursday.
"I actually live on 18th and Montgomery, where Officer Fitzgerald was killed. Being in bed and hearing those gunshots, it kind of makes me realize I can't be sitting around while it's happening down the street from me," said Nate Lauture, a sophomore.
Temple's Vice President and CFO, Ken Kaiser, sat down with Action News to emphasize the school's push for solutions.
"We're working with outside consultants to identify any gaps and make adjustments," said Kaiser.
When asked about the Temple police officer shortage, he stated, "The implication is that we're trying to save money by not hiring officers. But we've been doing everything we can within our power to bring officers in."
"I hope we can have a human conversation about these issues and not a deflection to nationwide issues," stated John Mangan, a senior.
Mangan helped organize the student protest and created the online presence "Keep Us Safe TU."
"We're not asking them to stop the crime. We're asking them to do enough to protect us so that students feel safe during this crisis," he said.
Temple University provided the following statement on the protest:
"Temple University has always had a strong, proud history of peaceful protests, and we support and welcome demonstrations like we saw today. We also share our students' concerns. We have contacted the leaders of Temple Student Government and Keep Us Safe TU to continue a dialogue that included two town halls in the last month reflecting students' concerns in this effort. We look forward to meeting with student leaders later this week.
Gun violence is a national scourge destroying the fabric of US society. Our Temple community has not been spared from its wrath. This is a systemic issue and must be solved through a holistic approach. Many of our long-term initiatives have already been outlined. We have also expanded our walking escort system, launched the Best Nest Program, joined the Civic Coalition to Save Lives and we will welcome eight new police officers from the police academy in March. We recognize we have more work ahead of us, and we are ready.
As an institution of higher education, our primary goal is educating our students and to do this, we all (city, state, university, partners) have to strive to ensure the safety of this city and our community. We have already been in contact with key stakeholders across both the city and state to expand our action plan, and we will provide an update on that shortly."