Following a protest held Thursday afternoon in support of cultural sensitivity on college campuses, Penn President Amy Gutmann, Provost Vincent Price and six other administrators addressed the issue via a university-wide email, sent at 9:30 a.m. Friday morning.
"We cannot state strongly enough that at Penn, everyone belongs," the email read. "Whether it be race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or cultural heritage, everyone here — students, faculty, staff — deserves to be treated with dignity and respect."
The protest was organized by Students Organizing for Unity and Liberation, with support from UMOJA, the Black Student League and the Penn National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Protesters gathered on College Green, participated in a sit-in on Market Street and marched to Gutmann's house to read a list of demands for the administration.
The demands, which were posted on the Facebook page for the event, asked the administration to state its solidarity with students of color on Penn's campus as well as students at the University of Missouri and Yale University, where protests have been erupting all week.
The group also called for Penn to hire more counselors of color at Counseling and Psychological Services, establish more sensitivity training, institute a "mandatory racial awareness curriculum," establish a social justice center for student activists and adopt "zero-tolerance policies for bigotry perpetrated by Greek organizations."
The administration did not specifically respond to any of these demands in its message, but encouraged students to participate in the Campaign for Community, a program launched by the Provost that aims to address divisive issues on campus — such as race — through collaborative conversations and events.
"We encourage you to watch for upcoming events that are part of the Campaign and urge you to become involved in helping us to better build a stronger ethos of inclusion across our campus," the email read.
The email also noted that while Penn is working to address issues of racism on campus, it also maintains a commitment to free speech.
"There is nothing that so clearly captures the core set of freedoms that we enjoy in this nation as does the First Amendment. It guarantees our right to speak, and it also guarantees the speech of those with whom we fundamentally disagree," the email read. "Open expression and a commitment to social justice are not mutually exclusive; peacefully pursued, they go hand-in-hand."
Following the email, Gutmann separately confirmed her own commitment to addressing the issue.
"The message that was sent to the campus today was intended to convey how important these issues are to me, our senior leadership team, and the entire Penn community," she wrote in an email. "I very much urge everyone in our community to join with us in this ongoing effort."
This story was last updated at 1:48 p.m.
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