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

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