Organization connects students to the community

Organization connects students to the community

Political science majors Sierra Kamara (left) and Andrew Ankamah Jr. (right) wants to grow TAI’s activism efforts. EARL KUFEN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

After coming to Temple and noticing a divide between students and locals, Andrew Ankamah Jr. felt he needed to take action to help bridge “the gap” between the communities.

“Even at the end of last semester I was walking down the block and there was people’s trash from students moving out and I’m like ‘This is not how we should be taking care of our community,'” said Ankamah, a senior political science major and director and founder of The Accountability Initiative. “I think the problem is that we don’t see it, well, I don’t want to generalize, but some people don’t see it as their community.”

Ankamah decided to found TAI, which is dedicated to cultivating activism and community service, at Temple on Jan. 9, the organization’s first official chapter. The group’s first action was a protest against gun violence following the fatal shooting of Samuel Collington, a senior political science major in 2021. After the protest, the organization, founded in 2020 in Ankamah’s home state of New Jersey, continued to grow and Ankamah worked to solidify the official temple chapter.

In the spring, the organization hopes to host community service events, such as college information fairs at local high schools. TAI also wants to pursue projects, such as the #100StoriesCampaign, which aim to highlight community members’ experiences with gun violence. The campaign will include a series of interviews with local residents who have dealt with gun violence to raise awareness of the issue in North Philadelphia.

“We’re looking at, at the end of the semester, hopefully bringing those 100 stories to the city leadership and university leadership to, you know, push to promote the need for change,” Ankamah said.

After creating a constitution, forming an executive board and signing 10 members, Ankamah submitted an application and received approval from Student Activities for an application to start an official chapter at Temple.

Sierra Kamara, a senior political science major and president of TAI, wanted to change the relationship between Temple and the North Philadelphia community after working with Philadelphia political leaders at an internship in Harrisburg.

“Just talking to them about the different issues like gun violence, education, housing insecurity, food insecurity and feeling like I want to make a change on campus,” Kamara said.

Wanting to be more involved in the community, Kamara joined TAI after meeting Ankamah at a town hall meeting with a local community leader about the gun violence occurring in North Philadelphia. She enjoyed small group discussions with the goal of creating change.

“I feel like joining that conversation is what started our professional relationship with working together and bringing his organization, The Accountability Initiative, from his hometown in North Brunswick, New Jersey, to Temple University, Kamara said.

Zoë Singleton, a senior chemistry major, joined TAI because she had always wanted to participate in social activism but was unsure where to start.

“I’ve always felt that activism was important, but I didn’t really know how to do it, so since another student was putting together this type of organization, it felt like something I wanted to do,” Singleton said .

Singleton believes TAI is an important organization because she thinks it can help students and faculty hold themselves accountable for their responses to situations that occur on and around campus.

Ankamah looks forward to the continued growth of the organization and hopes that TAI will become a place for any student interested in activism.

“I want this organization to be a place where those individuals can build themselves as student activists, and also a place where if there is a problem in the community, you go to The Accountability Initiative and we will, we will do what must be done,” Ankamah said.

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