From Donald Trump's win at the 2016 presidential elections, hundreds of flyers titled “THIS IS WHAT RAPE CULTURE LOOKS LIKE” posted across campus, to racially explicit texts targeting Penn students of color, the Class of 2020's first year at Penn saw great shock, tension, and resilience within the Penn community.
Early morning on November 9, 2016, 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump was officially declared president of the United States. After Hillary Clinton won all seven precincts near campus, news of Trump's victory shook Penn's campus.
At a University Council meeting on Nov. 9, students told Penn President Amy Gutmann they felt "fearful" and "terrified" for the future of their country. Penn Dems released a statement on Clinton's disappointing loss and vowed to continue fighting for the rights of women and minorities. College Republicans were split on the election, after some supported Trump throughout the campaign and others declined to support his candidacy.
Later that day, hundreds of students and faculty gathered on College Green for a solidarity walk co-organized by 23 student groups in the wake of Trump's election. Gutmann said at the University Council meeting she would be unable to attend the solidarity walk due to a "Penn dinner" but would be there in spirit.
In January 2017, Trump banned immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries. Penn students joined protests against the ban at the Philadelphia International Airport, shouting, “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” and “No wall, no registry, f*ck white supremacy.”
After leaving the White House upon Trump's election, former Vice President Joe Biden became a Penn professor under the title "Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor" in February. Biden would not teach students during his professorship but oversaw the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, D.C.
Early September 2016, students woke up to hundreds of flyers posted across campus featuring an email sent by an account email@example.com stamped with “THIS IS WHAT RAPE CULTURE LOOKS LIKE” and “WE ARE WATCHING.”
The flyer included part of an email off-campus fraternity OZ sent to first-year women on Aug. 31 that read, “May we have your attention please/We’re looking for the fun ones/And say f**k off to a tease,” and instructed first-year women to “wear something tight.”
Gutmann spoke out against the suggestive email, condemning it as having “no place” at Penn. Despite more than 900 members of sororities and all-female organizations condemning the emails, OZ did not face disciplinary action.
On Sept. 22 2016, the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on Divestment, which was formed in March 2016 to consider Fossil Free Penn's divestment proposal in November 2015, made a unanimous recommendation not to divest from fossil fuels, issuing strategies the University would pursue instead. In November, Fossil Free Penn held a seven-hour sit-in outside President Gutmann’s office to demand an on-the-record meeting with Gutmann and open dialogue as to why the University decided not to divest from fossil fuels.
Several first-year Penn students of color were unwillingly added to a GroupMe message in November labeled "Mud Men" containing racially explicit content. A University of Oklahoma student was temporarily suspended for being involved in sending the racist messages.
Later that month, faculty led a solidarity march for students of color across campus attended by students and administrators, including Gutmann. Participants in the march held Black Lives Matter signs, and faculty leaders said the march also aimed to show solidarity with Black students after Trump's election.
New on Campus
Lauder College House, then named New College House, opened its doors in August 2016 to house approximately 350 students. Consisting solely of suite-style rooms, the college house was the culmination of three years of construction and a $127 million budget.
In April 2017, the University named Wendell Pritchett, the Presidential Professor of Law and Education at Penn Law at the time, the new provost. Pritchett would replace Vincent Price, who announced in December he would leave his post to become president of Duke University.