Penn student groups, in addition to West Philadelphia community members, have taken to different forms of activism over the past year to address and redress different diversity, equity, and inclusion-related causes. In 2021, the return to in-person campus life allowed students and community members to resume gathering to demonstrate their grievances and frustrations with the University.
March 30 — Around a hundred educators, students, and activists marched through University City to urge Penn and other property tax-exempt universities, such as Drexel University and Thomas Jefferson University, to pay Payments in Lieu of Taxes to Philadelphia.
April 28 — More than 300 West Philadelphia and Penn community members gathered outside the Penn Museum to demand the immediate return of the remains of the victim killed in the 1985 MOVE bombing and to honor the lives of Tree and Delisha Africa, whose remains the Africa family believes were held by the Museum.
In August, a Penn-commissioned study found that two professors demonstrated “extremely poor judgment and gross insensitivity” in retaining human remains from the bombing and using them as educational materials in an online course.
June 23 — Hundreds of members of the Penn community signed a Police Free Penn petition calling on Penn President Amy Gutmann and the University to address the harmful medical experiments done on Philadelphia prison inmates conducted by the late Penn dermatologist Albert Kligman.
The petition demands a formal apology from Gutmann to the victims and their families and financial reparations for those affected by the experiments as well as complete disclosure of all profits Kligman and the University made from the experiments and removal of Kligman's name from all Penn-related entities.
Sept. 23 — After news broke that a Penn sophomore was assaulted by a Psi Upsilon “Castle” fraternity brother in September, students took to Locust Walk to distribute and hang 300 flyers around campus protesting an end to “frat culture.”
Sept. 26 — By the end of the day, a substantial amount of the flyers were torn down, in what some students said was a broader cultural clash about whether Greek life on campus should be abolished. Campus activists held multiple sit-ins and protests outside of the fraternity, located at 36th and Locust Streets, calling on the University to expel the alleged assailant and to remove Castle from its chapter house.
Oct. 11 — The following month, the student group Natives at Penn marched across campus demanding Penn to formally recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day by adding it to the academic calendar, as well as increase the institutional support of Indigenous students on campus.
Nov. 18 — As Penn continues to add more multi-stall, all-gender bathrooms to buildings across campus, student leaders are keeping up the pressure on administrators to redouble their efforts. Less than 50% of Penn’s buildings have all-gender bathrooms, according to LGBT Center Director Erin Cross, while University Architect Mark Kocent stressed that the bathroom renovations in older buildings take time due to logistical constraints.
Dec. 8 — This semester, Natives at Penn officially joined the 7B, formerly the 6B, a coalition of minority student groups on campus that periodically meet with the Penn administration.
Correction: A previous version of this article inaccurately states that the Penn Museum was in possession of the remains of both 1985 MOVE bombing victims Tree and Delisha Africa. An investigation by TLG concluded that only one unidentified victim's remains were housed by the Penn Museum. The DP regrets this error.
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