An Easy Target

“In today’s world, money talks. And you can be sure that money will flow toward men in power and toward men’s programs not toward working mothers and their children.”

While a story about male dominated leadership making decisions that primarily affect women might sound like a present day headline, this quote actually comes from an op-ed written in 1995 by Dr. Gail Greenspan on the closure of Temple University’s daycare, housed at 1500 N. Burk.

The closure came as part of an $18 million dollar university-wide budget cut, even though the daycare only cost an estimated $60,000 annually to operate. Announced in June of 1995, and officially closing just two months later, the closure displaced over 100 children and 85 employees.

Among the articles written during the summer of the closure, Dr. Greenspan’s op-ed was distinct. Instead of a summary of the lastest events, she took a stand against Temple and connected the closure to a larger issue. Greenspan criticized Temple’s predominately male leadership for making decision that directly affected women without any consultation, collaboration, or creative problem solving. As a program that does not exist for profit but instead to provide a service to working mothers, Greenspan argued the daycare was an “easy target” for Temple’s administration.

“Like most programs that particularly benefit women and children, this one didn’t have a lot of political clout, it didn’t generate a lot of money and it didn’t make local or national headlines for the university. Hence, it was an easy target.”

For Greenspan, this decision was emblematic of what happens when there are no women at the table when decisions are made. After I read this op-ed, I was compelled to see if this still an issue for Temple today. I was not at all surprised when I saw that Temple has only ever had one female president. Or that out of the 34 members on the Board of Trustees, only 5 are women and of the 28 university officers and college deans, again, only 5 are women.*

It is impossible to gauge how Temple’s gender imbalance at the highest levels of leadership has affected university decisions since the closure of the daycare. However, we do know that Temple has not opened a new daycare facility and working mothers and fathers still do not have an on-campus childcare option.

As Dr. Greenspan predicted, the bitterness and hurt over the daycare closure has lasted for a long time. As I write this, however, it is not just learning about the daycare closure that has left me bitter, because the daycare was not the only thing that closed that day in 1995. For the last 23 years, the house at 1500 N. Broad has sat idle, empty, and is slowly rotting away.

Before this project began, I probably would not have thought twice about 1500 N. Broad when I walked by it. But now, I see it as a gendered symbol of university priorities and the power and persistence of male-dominated power structures. It stands as a phyiscal reminder of a past that I believe, and as Greenspan argued is, “not something Temple University wants to be remembered for.”

Greenspan, Gail. “Temple day-care closure tied to gender.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 15, 1995.

 

*Temple University Fact Book (2017-2018), http://www.temple.edu/ira/documents/data-analysis/Fact-Book/TU_Fact_Book_2017-2018.pdf

Off the Map

Temple University 2018 Campus Map – 232_1718_ENR_ADM_CampusMap.pdf

Looking at the official campus map of Temple University, you would never know where or what Burk Mansion is. Where Burk should be, at the corner of Jefferson and Broad street (6, G), there is instead an empty, grey block. Despite being owned and operated by Temple, Burk Mansion is not a part of campus. This isn’t too surprising. If the building currently holds no function for students or faculty, what is the purpose of keeping it on the map? However, its exclusion portends the collective forgetting, not just about the history or significance of the building, but of the building’s existence itself.

Campus Map 1971 – Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

Over the course of its history as a part of Temple’s campus, Burk mansion has appeared and disappeared from the map. Temple purchased Burk Mansion in 1970. The next year the building appeared on the campus map. Well, a mention of the map appeared. At the base of the map (which ends at Oxford Street), an arrow points beyond the boundary and reads “School of Social Administration 1500 N Broad”.

An actual depiction of the building appears on the 1973 map. From this point, Burk either appears in actuality or with a mention just beyond the frame of the map. It is often referred to as 1500 N Broad, University Day Care, or the Center for Social Policy and Community Development. It is never referred to as “Burk Mansion” or “Alfred E Burk House”. The selection of maps archived at the Special Collections Research Center is sporadic, but thankfully they have maps from one of the most pivotal years in Burk Mansion’s history with Temple.

In June of 1994, Temple announced the closing of the day care center. After a summer of protests and pushback from the community, the day care officially closed in August. However, it seems like this decision occured after the Temple Welcome broucher for the 1994/1995 academic year was designed and printed. On the map in this brouchure, a numeric marker (11) stands where Burk should and is labeled as the University day care.

Temple University Welcome Brochure 1994 – Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

Knowing that the day care was in the process of closing down as this brochure was being circulated at the start of a new semester makes the mansion’s partial inclusion on the map highly symbolic. While the building is referenced, its visage isn’t represented. It is positioned on the very border of the map, as close to the edge as possible. Even the way in which the color at the border of the frame fades to white fortells the dissolution of the association of the building and the unviersity.

There are no additional maps from the 1990s in the SCRC archives. However, it is safe to say that if this wasn’t the last inclusion of Burk, it probably disappeared soon after. The question remains if Burk Mansion will ever regain enough importance to the university to make its way back onto our campus map.