Penn student upset over university's handling of pro-Palestinian encampment

Tuesday, May 7, 2024
Penn student upset over university's handling of encampment
Penn student upset over university's handling of pro-Palestinian encampment

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A pro-Palestinian protest on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania stretched into a 13th day.

On Tuesday, a small group of counter-protesters was seen at the Gaza solidarity encampment on Penn's campus holding up signs of Israelis taken hostage by Hamas. It's something they say the pro-Palestinian demonstrators have not mentioned or shown in the nearly two weeks since the protest began.

Interim President J. Larry Jameson has repeatedly called on organizers to disband the encampment.

"The encampment should end. It is in violation of our policies, it is disrupting campus operations and events, and it is causing fear for many in our large, diverse community, especially among our Jewish students," said Jameson in a letter on Monday.

Penn's interim president says pro-Palestinian encampment is 'causing fear for many'

On Tuesday, students looking forward to graduation worked around the protests to capture graduation pictures on campus.

Lillie Abella is one of many Jewish Penn students upset over the university's handling of the encampment.

"[Jameson's] response over email was really appropriate and condemned the encampments and condemned the harassment. However, in doing that, he has not done anything to remove the encampments. So it almost feels like an empty promise," said Abella.

A protester reacted to Jameson's letter, saying, "We want the administration to drop the disciplinary actions they've taken against students. We want police out of the encampment."

Organizers also want the Ivy League school to divest from any company with financial ties to Israel.

Pro-Palestinian protest at Penn enters 8th day; petition to end encampment delivered

The group of protesters is made up of students from Penn, Drexel University, Temple University and other organizations.

The university said it is focused on de-escalating and dialogue, but it fears some protesters want confrontation with authorities.

"We are concerned that many of the protestors occupying the encampment on College Green are seeking such a confrontation. We have heard reports of circulating documents with instructions for escalating a protest, including through building occupations and violence," said Jameson.

According to Penn, protesters refuse to let police check identification -- many are not Penn students and they are violating school policies like intimidation and harassment.

The university will continue with disciplinary action that could result in students not graduating or attending any longer.

Encampment members tell Action News they have been in negotiations with the university, but an agreement has not been reached.