'Vile' antisemitic messages projected on University of Pennsylvania campus

Antisemitic messages were projected onto campus buildings, including Penn Commons, Huntsman Hall and Irvine Auditorium

Friday, November 10, 2023
'Vile' antisemitic messages projected on UPenn campus
'Vile' antisemitic messages projected on University of Pennsylvania campus

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Philadelphia college campus is reacting to messages of hate as people in our region continue to process what is happening in the Middle East.

The University of Pennsylvania has been dealing with threats for the past month.

The latest incident involved antisemitic messages projected onto buildings around campus, including Penn Commons, Huntsman Hall and Irvine Auditorium. These images, now part of the investigation, are being shared widely in social media.

RELATED: University of Pennsylvania alerted FBI to antisemitic threats on campus, school's president says

Penn Commons is also a popular gathering place for rallies and previous protests.

Students said the climate on campus has shifted since the Oct. 7 terror attack in Israel.

"Divisiveness had gotten really out of hand both on this campus and in general," said Lilah Katz, a senior at Penn.

Penn President Elizabeth Magill confirmed there is an investigation into the act on Wednesday night.

"We will pursue this matter to the fullest extent and take swift action in accordance with our policies," Magill said in a social media post.

One of the messages mentioned her by name. The others were pro-Palestine.

"These reprehensible messages are an assault on our values and cause pain and fear for our Jewish Community," Magill said.

Magill has come under fire from both sides of the conflict.

Major donors have called for her resignation due to a lack of response to antisemitism on campus.

ALSO SEE: UPenn president made a 'mistake' but shouldn't be forced out, former Gov. Rendell says

Katz said, as a Jewish student, she's heard messages of support from the university president but added at times it feels hollow.

"Her lack of acknowledgement for the Palestinian and Arab students has been pretty disappointing. And again, as a Jewish student, it definitely weakens support for us if she is not giving it to all of her students," Katz said.

"As people that support Palestine -- myself and a lot of other minorities -- it does seem like we don't have a voice on campus," said a sophomore student who did not want her name shared.

SEE ALSO | Muslim, Jewish organizations around Philadelphia observe increased hate incidents

Muslim, Jewish organizations around Philadelphia observe increased hate incidents

Some students in support of Palestine are calling for the university to take a stand towards a cease-fire.

"It's a whole genocide. It's so upsetting and as a president, she is not doing what she should to speak out for that," Gwan-Nulla said.

This comes as the FBI has been called in to investigate antisemitic, hateful and threatening emails sent to staff members, naming Penn Hillel and Lauder College House specifically. Authorities conducted a sweep of buildings on campus and reported no credible threat.

Magill called Wednesday night's projections an act of "cowardice," adding that "projecting hateful messages on our campus is not a debate... and has no place at Penn."