The deadly infectious disease Ebola and rowdy Temple University students shared billing Thursday in Philadelphia City Council.
The Ebola outbreak was the focus of Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., who introduced a resolution calling for hearings on how well the city's schools, hospitals, and airport are prepared for dealing with potential cases.
Temple students figured in an ordinance change proposed by President Darrell L. Clarke that would require a greater role by the university and landlords in monitoring student behavior.
The recent outbreak of Ebola and the death of a Liberian man in Texas from the disease were factors behind Jones' resolution.
Referring to the death of Thomas Duncan in Dallas, Jones said:
"I have total confidence in the federal government, but a word to the wise should be sufficient: They said it would never come here, and now we have the death of a gentleman who was turned away from the hospital and told he did not have it.
"We should know what systems are in place, just in case. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
With that in mind, Jones said, airport officials would be asked to explain what screening procedures were in place to identify travelers potentially infected with Ebola or other deadly infectious diseases.
"Hospitals will be at the hearings to tell us how they equip their emergency rooms to deal with these diseases," Jones said. The School District will explain how facilities will be sanitized should a case be discovered in a city school, he added.
"There is a lot of fear out there," Jones said. "When you have fear, it should be countered with information."
Clarke's call for an ordinance change stems from long-standing tension between residents who live around Temple and students who rent in the neighborhood.
Jane Roh, Clarke's spokeswoman, said the potential ordinance change was designed as much with student safety in mind as with monitoring student off-campus behavior.
The proposal would designate Clarke's district, which includes Temple, as an Educational Housing District, and subject it to existing city regulations for such districts.
Under the change, the students would be required to notify the university of their off-campus addresses and whether they keep a vehicle there. They would also have to notify landlords of their student status.
The university would need to be notified any time a student was cited for parking tickets and certain code violations, such as excessive noise, public drinking, and destruction of property.
Landlords would be required to have adult supervisors in buildings with student tenants.
Brandon Lausch, a spokesman for Temple, said the university would be reviewing the proposal. He noted that the school already put a focus on monitoring student behavior off-campus. The school recently extended the area it policed to 18th Street, he said, placing an emphasis on cracking down on public alcohol comsumption, excessive noise and trash.
Just this week, Temple President Neil D. Theobald and Temple Student Government President Ray Smeriglio sent a letter to students urging them to be respectful of residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.
The letter came with a warning: "The Student Conduct Code is not limited to conduct within the formal boundaries of our campuses. Students are - and will continue to be - held accountable for their actions off campus."