On Tuesday, August 22 at 4 p.m. Pope Francis arrived at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. He will be in the U.S. until Sept. 25 as part of the World Meeting of Families Congress, the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families.
According to his itinerary, the pope plans to make three stops – Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia.
Temple University, in Philadelphia, is located just further south of where barricades are placed for his visit this weekend, according to John Doman, the associate director of campus recreation. But the subway station on campus is going to be one of the few in operation, so the university is planning for people who are trying to see Pope Francis.
“We’re hoping that it’s going to be like a normal weekend here at Temple. Of course, the Papal visit, it’s not something many have experienced before. We know there’s going to be a lot of people around,” said Doman.
While the university is closed today, the campus recreation center is open for students.
“Our facility management group here at Temple University do an excellent job getting our campus ready and safe for students to get out of the residents halls and participate in what they need to do,” explained Doman. “Even if the school is closed for classes, we know there’s a large population of students here that still need to have activities to do.”
The rec center will operate on normal hours, but “more on a student-supervisor basis,” because the full-time staff may have a difficult time driving to campus. Doman added they dipped into their inclement weather contingency plan.
In order to prepare for the Papal visit, the recreation department was involved in building manager meetings to discuss what buildings to close down, what services to keep open to students and how to get staff to campus.
“The first thing we did was reach out to our student staff to make sure who was going to be close enough that they can walk or ride their bike in case it’s really difficult to drive. Then we schedule them to make sure they’re good to be able to open and close the facilities. And then we just put together whatever schedule we best could for population,” said Doman.
Temple University also sent out a witty FAQ document to all students, answering questions like “What’s the deal with parking?” and “What is that sound you hear in the distance?”
Doman says he has no idea what to expect for the next few days the Pope will be in Philadelphia, but he is going to be flexible with the rec center plans and will pay attention to media reports.
“Having an open line of communication with the senior level staff that are actually getting the up-to-date information is extremely important,” he added.
For other universities that may experience the same high-level event, Doman suggests speaking with senior level staff early and trust the plan put in place by your staff and the administrative staff.