Temple Fest incident settled with numerous penalties

Abdel Aziz Jalil, the student who was accused of striking senior management information systems major and Jewish student Daniel Vessal at Temple Fest in August, was admitted into a six month Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, among other penalties today.

The Commonwealth-run ARD program is intended to help first offenders who are charged with minor crimes. Aziz Jalil was also given 10 hours of community service, included in anger management counseling and required to pay numerous fees.

Aziz Jalil was charged with simple assault and recklessly endangering another person. Despite accusations of the incident being driven by anti-Semitic views, Aziz Jalil was not charged with a hate crime.

The Commonwealth proposed the penalties today in a Municipal Court status hearing, which Aziz Jalil attended with his defense attorney, Raymond C. Geary. The judge overseeing the hearing, Nazario Jimenez Jr., accepted the agreement between the parties and urged Aziz Jalil to complete the program and “stay out of trouble.”

Geary said that Aziz Jalil has already given Vessal a formal letter of apology and the two will shake hands at Geary’s office at a later date.

Aziz Jalil is still listed as a student in the university’s directory.

If Aziz Jalil completes all of the required programs, the Commonwealth will expunge the incident from his record as part of the agreement.

Marcus McCarthy can be reached at marcus.mccarthy@temple.edu or on Twitter @marcusmccarthy6.

TSG discusses campus safety and community relations

By Lian Parsons

Charlie Leone, executive director of campus safety services, spoke about taking action against sexual assault at the Temple Student Government General Assembly meeting Monday evening.

“Alcohol is almost always a driving factor,” Leone said. “It’s time to step in.”

Leone emphasized bystander intervention and what people can do to keep friends and fellow students safe.

Leone also spoke of the importance of Temple’s relationship to the surrounding community and asked students what could be done collectively to improve this relationship.

“We can make a better community [and] see a cohesiveness start to build,” Leone said.

Regarding a policy for security guards on their cell phones, Leone said that phones are considered a distraction. Leone said there are also about 15 students who are hired by Campus Safety Services to check different buildings on Main Campus and send reports about cell phone usage.

Jalen Blot, director of campus life and diversity, unveiled a draft of a new unity statement. The statement stressed the significance of diversity and tolerance at Temple.

“TU is diverse in numbers, but not action,” Blot said. “The purpose [of the statement] is to change the perception of campus.”

The meeting outlined the Homecoming activities for next week and introduced the Homecoming Court.

The Student Organization of the Week was the Pan-Hellenic Organization. Over the course of recruitment for the five sororities in the Pan-Hellenic Organization, 290 new members joined sororities.

Lian Parsons can be reached at Lian.parsons@temple.edu.

Student charged after Welcome Week incident

The student accused of assaulting a Jewish student and using anti-Semitic slurs on Aug. 20 during Welcome Week was recently charged, as confirmed by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.

The defendant, Abdel Aziz Jalil, is being charged with simple assault and recklessly endangering another person, said Tasha Jamerson, a spokesperson for the DA’s office.

On Aug. 20, senior managing and information systems major Daniel Vessal alleged that Jalil punched him after approaching the Students for Justice in Palestine table at Temple Fest to discuss the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza.

Five days after the incident, President Theobald announced a university investigation of the events that transpired. The investigation’s findings were then passed on to the DA, Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said on Sept. 2.

Marcus McCarthy can be reached at marcus.mccarthy@temple.edu. 

Temple investigating attack on student

By Joe Brandt

Temple is investigating an attack on a student who was punched in the face yesterday and allegedly called anti-Semitic and religious slurs.

The student, managing and information systems major Daniel Vessal, told Truthrevolt.org that at the student activities fair Temple Fest, he spoke with members of Students for Justice in Palestine about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

After the students discussed possible ends to the conflict, Vessal said some students called him a “baby killer” and not long after that “this kid just rocks me in the face as hard as he can,” Vessal told the site.

“My glasses flew off. After a two-second blur I had no clue what had happened. I couldn’t believe the kid actually hit me,” Vessal said.

Two of Vessal’s friends told Truthrevolt that while Vessal was on the ground, a student called him “kike,” a slur for people of Jewish heritage.

SJP released a statement on the incident yesterday, which contended that Vessal was slapped, not punched, after allegedly calling the group’s members “terrorists” and saying “I can’t believe this group exists.”

SJP also said the assailant was not a member of SJP but a friend of some of the members.

Additionally, the group said the incident was “unnecessary and deplorable, and does not represent the principles of our organization.” The group says no slurs were used in the incident.

Around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Vice President for Student Affairs Theresa A. Powell emailed a statement to students, faculty and staff.

“In the coming days, we will work with students and local leaders—particularly those in our religious communities—to ensure that everyone understands and conforms to the principles of freedom valued in our nation and guaranteed by our Student Conduct Code,” Powell wrote. 

Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@temple.edu or on Twitter @JBrandt_TU.

Overridden fail-safe system a possible cause of Katz plane crash

By Joe Brandt

The plane crash that killed Temple trustee and Philadelphia Inquirer owner Lewis Katz on May 31 may have been caused by an override of the jet’s fail-safe system, according to the Inquirer.

The Inquirer obtained a copy of a letter dated Aug. 18 which Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. sent to pilots and owners of its jets.

The letter cautioned that Gulfstream fail-safe systems, which normally limit the plane to taxi speed while the gust lock is engaged, can be overridden if “proper [tail flap] unlock procedures are not followed.”

The movable tail and wing flaps are a crucial part of a plane’s takeoff, providing lift, but many planes have gust-lock systems to hold the flaps in place and protect them from potentially damaging wind while the plane is parked.

In June, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board found through analysis of the  flight data recorder in Katz’s plane that no pre-flight control check was performed and that “[tail and wing flap] position during the taxi and takeoff was consistent with its position if the gust lock was engaged,” according to an NTSB report.

The Inquirer article, posted online August 20, quoted from Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautics and astronautics professor John Hansman Jr.

Hansman said the pilots should have turned off the gust-lock and then started the engines, but instead started the engines before disengaging the lock, overriding the fail-safe system and allowing the plane to reach greater speeds. The plane reached about 190 mph before it crashed.

Additionally, a professional pilot of Gulfstream jets, Steven M. Janos, told the Inquirer: “[m]y understanding is that if you start the engine, you will not be able to release the gust lock.”

Katz’s plane crashed and burst into flames at Hanscom Field near Boston, Mass. after he attended a fundraising event at the house of author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Four days earlier, he had won control of the Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and philly.com with fellow Temple trustee and business partner H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest.

The three passengers and three crew members on board died in the crash, along with Katz.

Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@temple.edu or on Twitter @JBrandt_TU.

Theobald’s salary far below other presidents’, study says

By Paul Klein

President Theobald's makes more than $100,000 less than the median public university president's salary. | TTN FILE PHOTO

President Theobald’s makes more than $100,000 less than the median public university president. | TTN FILE PHOTO

President Theobald has a salary well below many other public university leaders, ranking No. 173 among all public college executives, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education survey published earlier this summer.

With total compensation at $352,021 in the 2013 fiscal year, Theobald made nearly $127,000 less than the middle of the pack. However, in the current fiscal year, Theobald will receive a significant bump in salary.

Slated to earn $450,000 this fiscal year and an additional $200,000 in deferred compensation as part of his contract, Theobald would move up 67 spots in the rankings, assuming no other salaries change.

A university spokesman said Theobald is also provided with a residence for personal and university use with an additional car and driver for university business.

The Chronicle’s survey, published May 16, ranked the salaries of 255 chief executives at 227 public universities or systems nationwide. In Pennsylvania, Theobald’s compensation was also below average.

University of Pittsburgh’s outgoing chancellor, Mark Nordenberg, made nearly $300,000 more than Theobald and was ranked the 43rd highest. Nordenberg, who will retire Aug. 1, served Pittsburgh for more than 36 years, 19 of which he was chancellor.

The second highest Pennsylvania public university president was Pennsylvania State University’s Rodney Erickson who received $618,220 and was ranked 42nd. Erickson, who retired last month, assumed the position in late 2011 after president Graham Spanier was ousted in the heat of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

With the exception of head executives who served for less than a whole fiscal year, like Temple’s former interim president Richard Englert, Theobald’s compensation only trumped Michael Driscoll of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Theobald earned nearly $25,000 more than Driscoll.

Not one active Pennsylvania state college executive was in the Top 10 or even the Top 20. However, next fiscal year will be a different story for Pennsylvania’s state higher education leaders.

Pittsburgh’s new chancellor Patrick Gallagher will be receiving a base salary of $525,000. Penn State’s new president Eric Barron will make $800,000 with $200,000 in transitional payment.

Paul Klein can be reached at tua80386@temple.edu.

Shooting close to campus tests new CSS communications policy

By Sarai Flores

The scene of the shooting, 2036 N. Carlisle St.,which left two men in the hospital.

The scene of the shooting, 2036 N. Carlisle St.,which left two men in the hospital. | SARAI FLORES TTN

Philadelphia police responded to a shooting outside an apartment building less than a block off Main Campus Tuesday evening, which left two non-Temple-affiliated males in the hospital.

A 22-year-old male was found lying in the foyer of an apartment at 2036 N. Carlisle St. with a gunshot wound to his chest and was taken to Temple University Hospital in critical condition. Temple police said the man was visiting from New York.

A police spokesperson said that while officers were at the scene, they noticed a male driving away in a van. After briefly pursuing the vehicle, police reported that it crashed into a wall on North College Ave., near Girard College. The 19-year-old male driver was transported to Hahnemann University Hospital with injuries related to the incident.

The 19-year-old male’s involvement in the shooting is still being investigated and he had not been formally charged as of Wednesday night.

According to police, the 22-year-old male was in critical condition as of Wednesday and had yet to be questioned. No charges have been made to anyone involved in the shooting and police said they believe there were several males involved in the shooting.

Although the incident occurred around 9:38 p.m., Temple students were issued a TU Alert at 11 p.m. that night.

“The problem was we had a problem with our computer dispatching system,” said Charlie Leone, executive director of campus safety services.“It went down and so we didn’t get the information right away but Philly [police] was there very fast.”

The shooting came four months after a March 21 incident just off Main Campus where a female student was attacked and hit in the face with a brick by a group of teenage girls. Many students criticized the university for not immediately notifying them of the incident.

University officials initially said the incident wasn’t reported because it was off-campus, therefore not in their jurisdiction, and they weren’t notified about it by Philadelphia police until hours after. Leone said Tuesday’s incident showed a reformed communication policy since the attacks in March.

“Talking with the student population… they wanted more information. So we saw something like this and we wanted to make sure we had put the information out so they know what happened,” Leone said. “We’re trying to do better and we’re trying to improve.”

However, Inella Ray, a senior economics major, believes Temple police still have room to improve with communicating.

“I guess I come from a biased point of view because I grew up in the inner city, but I don’t rely on Temple police for safety,” Ray said. “I don’t think Temple police do a good enough of a job. We end up finding out about stuff very late. They need to do a better job communicating.”

Temple police have stated that they are continuing to heavily patrol the area.

Sarai Flores can be reached at sarai.abisag.flores@temple.edu or on Twitter @saraiaflores.

AxisPhilly to be disbanded

By Marcus McCarthy

Temple’s Center for Public Interest Journalism announced Friday that its nonprofit news website AxisPhilly will cease operations, and a new project will be started in its place.

Started in 2012, AxisPhilly was intended to cover local civic issues but, according to a press release on the organization’s website, “did not achieve consistent local impact and fell short of serving as a collaborative hub for the emerging news ecosystem, both of which were goals at founding.”

Run through the university’s School of Media and Communication, the CPIJ, which oversaw AxisPhilly, will change its focus to a startup by former Digital First Media and WashingtonPost.com executive Jim Brady. The news startup will be called Brother.ly, according to Technical.ly Philly.

Brady’s startup will seek to “hit younger audiences that may not be using traditional journalism resources,” Temple’s journalism department chair Andrew Mendelson told        philly.com.

As well as starting Brother.ly, Brady will teach a course in entrepreneurial journalism at Temple. OpenDataPhilly, the city’s official open data portal that was run by AxisPhilly, will be managed by the CPIJ.

AxisPhilly last year received a national online journalism award for general excellence. The website, which had four full-time employees who will receive severance, was created with funding from a $2.4 million grant by the William Penn Foundation. With lacking readership and dwindling funds, the project needed work, something SMC Dean David Boardman said was not worth pursuing.

“The burn rate was such that this was going to come to an end one way or another unless we could find new funding,” Boardman told Philly.com. “It was our judgment that finding funding for this…was not where we wanted to put our energy.”

Operation of AxisPhilly will cease June 13.

Marcus McCarthy can be reached at marcus.mccarthy@temple.edu or on Twitter @marcusmccarthy6.

Temple student assaulted off Main Campus, Police say

By Marcus McCarthy

Police released a surveillance video of five men they said assaulted a Temple student just off Main Campus on the 1800 block of Berks Street around 11:50 p.m. on May 5.

In the video, the Philadelphia police said that a 20-year-old male who was a student at the university was walking through an alley when he was approached from behind by five unknown males. The student was struck on the back of the head by two of the unknown men then beat up once on the ground, the police said. The men proceeded to take the student’s cellphone.

The student was taken to Temple University Hospital where he was treated for a dislocated right shoulder, scrapes and a bloody nose.

The footage in the video, taken by a security camera on the corner of Berks and 18th streets, shows five men walking south on 18th Street.

Anyone with information are asked to call the Philadelphia police at 215-686-8477.

Marcus McCarthy can be reached at marcus.mccarthy@temple.edu or on Twitter @marcusmccarthy6.

Ray Smeriglio, TU Believe inaugurated

Following the inaugural ceremony, the newly sworn in administration cut a decorative cake to celebrate the occasion. JOHN MORITZ | TTN

Ray Smeriglio was sworn in as the student body president for the upcoming 2014-15 academic year on Monday, May 5. Darin Bartholomew, the outgoing student body president, introduced Smeriglio and his administration in the inaugural ceremony that took place in room 200c of the student center.

“The three individuals we’re about to swear in here today, I have full faith that they will accomplish a ton next year and make us all very proud,” Bartholomew said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing everything that these guys will do.”

Students, faculty, staff and family members attended the event, many personally congratulating Temple Student Government members from both administrations after the meeting ended. Blair Alston and Julia Crusor, Smeriglio’s running mates and vice presidents, were first sworn in followed by Smeriglio.

“You don’t get to this point without awesome support emotionally, physically [and] psychologically,” Smeriglio said in his speech following his inauguration. “Thank you guys so much. You all mean the world to mean and I’m so excited to be your next student body president.”

Smeriglio, Alston and Crusor ran under the TU Believe ticket, which won by more than 200 votes over Renew TU. The elections, which took place on April 8 and April 9 online via Owl Connect, had relatively low voter turnout falling nearly 360 votes short of last year’s numbers and more than 900 below the year before that.

Smeriglio’s previous position was as TSG director of communications. He thanked his communications team in his speech, among other friends, coworkers and family members. Following the ceremony, the newly sworn in administration cut a decorative cake to celebrate the occasion.

Marcus McCarthy can be reached at marcus.mccarthy@temple.edu or on Twitter @marcusmccarthy6.