Black students were hit with eggs and called racial and homophobic slurs at an off-campus party during Spring Fling weekend.
Approximately 100 students attended the party, which was hosted on April 9 outside of a rowhome at 4111 Locust St. by Black students including College junior William Wallace. The party was scheduled to start at 10 p.m., and at 11:15 p.m., students were heard screaming while several individuals — who, according to College junior Tyler McCormick, were in a house adjacent to the party — threw eggs at students that burst upon impact on their faces, body, hair, and clothes.
On Wednesday, April 13, members of UMOJA — the umbrella organization for Black student groups on campus — and the Black Student League met with Penn administration to discuss the incident, according to McCormick, who is also the BSL president. Attendees included Interim President Wendell Pritchett and Vice Provost of University Life Mamta Accapadi.
University spokesperson Ron Ozio did not respond to request for comment.
McCormick, who attended the party and was hit by an egg on his chest, said that Penn was officially investigating the incident and the Office of Student Affairs had reached out to the party's organizers.
During the conversation with the administration, Pritchett described the event as "disgusting," according to McCormick, and added that he understood the struggle of Black students on campus.
“He said that, as a Black person, he understands that going through this world, you have to have a mask on sometimes,” said McCormick. “It's really important, especially for Black students, to have space on campus because it feels like we have the biggest mask.”
College junior Houston Jarvis and College sophomore Tarah Paul were at the event and recalled that eggs hit them and their friends.
“Out of nowhere, eggs just dropped from an elevated angle — and at first, we didn't really know what it was, but it turned out that we saw cracked eggs all over the ground,” Jarvis said. “One of my other friends, her sweater [was] stained. It was on the back of my arm and on my shirt as well."
Paul echoed Jarvis's account, saying that “My friend had cracked egg on her face, and my other friend had it all over her arm, and then another guy who was right next to us had it all down his black jeans, so we rushed to the bathroom to clean it off. But we didn't even see where it came from. We just felt it when it hit us."
College sophomore Milgo Bulhan had eggs thrown on her arm, and College sophomore Taussia Boadi and College first year Ngozi Agoh both said that they found eggs in their hair after the party ended.
“It wasn't until I got back home, and I just happen to look and I saw that I had a chunk of eggs in my hair and on my jacket,” Agoh said.
Both organizers and partygoers said that they were unsure who threw the eggs since it was dark outside during the party.
Organizers also confirmed that during the party, racial and homophobic slurs were directed toward partygoers. Paul and Jarvis said they were frustrated by the incident.
“You would think that we would have moved past this, but I guess it just has shown students' true colors,” Paul said.
Jarvis added that knowing about the slurs "only confirms what I had already been thinking about the eggs being thrown."
At 11:30 p.m., Penn police officers arrived and requested that party organizers end the event early due to noise complaints from surrounding neighbors. Organizers had registered the event with the University, which helps Penn Police keep track of activities and requires hosts to provide event security, according to the University Life website.
Event organizers added that they checked in with neighbors before the event to inform them about the potential for noise beforehand.
Although students said that police were present at the front door when the incident occurred, and that University-provided security was present at the event, no police officers or security guards intervened or investigated the egg-throwing incident at the time.
In a conversation with the Division of Public Safety on April 19, Interim Vice President of DPS Kathleen Shields Anderson informed The Daily Pennsylvanian that officers are aware of the egging incident.
"We were alerted by administrators about this egging event, and we have reached out to how we can be of help," Anderson said.
College first year Niko Amber, who attended the April 9 party, questioned why police and security didn’t intervene in the egging but shut down the party due to noise.
“We were in a really big hub where social gatherings are thrown, whether or not that's a group of friends or an off-campus organization or a frat,” Amber said. “I think the fact that there was vandalism [the egging] committed and that didn't — at least to me from where I was — seem to be a consideration of the police's actions was definitely interesting.”
Students said they were frustrated with Penn Police's history of shutting down Black-hosted parties more often than other parties at Penn.
On the same night of the egg-throwing incident, Penn Glee Club hosted an event at 3937 Locust St. Video footage from Barstool UPenn, an Instagram account featuring posts from around the Penn community, shows a police officer singing a song for the students. Afterward, when the officer warned event organizers of the noise complaint, students yelled for an encore, and the officer sang again.
“It's a clear distinction. You see at predominantly [non-Black] parties, if there [is] security there, they're not necessarily engaged in what's going on at the party," Agoh said. "But when it comes to [Black parties'] police, they show up then they are quick to shut it down or tell people they have to leave without giving any type of explanation or without leeway."
UMOJA Political Chair and College junior Toluwalase Akinwunmi attended the house party on April 9. UMOJA, which has a stated purpose to "unite students and student groups of the African Diaspora," often helps organizations register and hold events.
“Black students are living very different experiences on this campus than other students,” Akinwunmi said. "[Black] parties have a long history of being shut down or just cut short. That usually happens when neighbors call the police."
Students added that parties hosted by Black students are often shut down by police. Wallace, who helped organize the April 9 party, said that "it’s not a matter of if, but when."
Wallace added that it is important to have a space on campus where Black students can gather and socialize.
“[Black culture is] just not something that's typically represented here,” Amber said. “There's tons and tons of parties at this school, but the number of parties that will play even one Afrobeat song — even [a] dancehall song — is very slim.”
Black students have expressed that it is more difficult for them to participate in parties on Penn's campus which exclude them based on the racial makeup of their group.
“While we do go to other parties, it's often very difficult for everyone to be able to get into other parties because of our race,” Akinwunmi said.
McCormick echoed these sentiments, saying that Penn has not invested enough in creating spaces for Black students. The only Black student-focused center, Makuu: The Black Cultural Center, is currently housed in the basement of the ARCH building.
“Black people on this campus often can't find spaces, and when they do, they're still egged,” McCormick said.