Penn President Liz Magill committed to “vigorously pursue” any violations of the law or University policy while condemning recent acts of hate in an email to the Penn community on Friday.
Magill wrote that Penn is working with local and federal authorities to investigate recent antisemitic acts and other forms of hate on campus. She wrote that — while the University cannot comment on individual personnel matters or student disciplinary cases due to confidentiality — Penn is continuing to take action on violations of University policies or the law.
The email follows a number of antisemitic incidents which have occurred on Penn’s campus in recent months. Magill described these incidents as “abhorrent,” and having “brought tremendous pain to Jewish students, faculty, and staff and to our Penn community.”
Magill recently announced a University-wide action plan to combat antisemitism on campus, emphasizing increased security and education. While many commended the plan, some students told the DP that they wanted to see follow-through from the University or a stronger commitment to combating Islamophobia on campus.
Multiple Penn faculty members and students have received threats following their involvement as speakers during pro-Palestinian demonstrations on campus in the past month.
In her email sent on Nov. 10, Magill specifically mentioned “hateful antisemitic messages projected on our buildings,” referencing the projection of pro-Palestinian messages onto campus buildings Wednesday night.
Pro-Palestinian groups Penn Against the Occupation and the Philly Palestine Coalition posted on their Instagram stories photos of several messages projected onto Huntsman Hall, Irvine Auditorium, and Penn Commons. The projections displayed phrases such as "Let Gaza live," "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," "Zionism is racism," "Penn funds Palestinian genocide," "From West Philly to Palestine, occupation is a crime," "Free Palestine," "Liz Magill is complicit in genocide," and "10,000 murdered by Israeli occupation since October 7."
Magill condemned the projections at the time, calling them “antisemitic” and “vile.”
In the email Magill also mentioned “disturbing emails threatening violence to individuals purely based on their Jewish and other identities,” referencing emails sent to Penn staff members last week threatening violence against Jewish community members and naming Penn Hillel and Lauder College House.
While “no credible threat” was found at the time, Penn’s Division of Public Safety was conducting a joint investigation with the FBI into a potential hate crime.
In addition, Magill mentioned “viral videos of people spewing hateful rhetoric or ripping down posters.”
The email also mentioned “swastikas drawn on our walls,” referencing when a spray-painted swastika — which has since been painted over — was discovered in a spray room on the fourth floor of Meyerson Hall in the Weitzman School of Design on the evening of Sept. 13, two days before the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.
The email comes after a Penn student was arrested after allegedly stealing an Israeli flag from the front of a Campus Apartments house on Nov. 4. The incident occurred on Oct. 28 and prompted a response from Penn's Division of Public Safety and charges from the Philadelphia District Attorney's office.
Magill also encouraged Penn community members to familiarize themselves with the University's expectations, specifically mentioning the Code of Student Conduct, the faculty and staff's Principles of Responsible Conduct, the Faculty Handbook, and the HR Policy Manual.
Magill has previously condemned antisemitism and hateful speech in multiple statements to the Penn community.
“To move forward and to advance our academic mission, we must come together as a community that condemns hate and finds ways to respectfully debate and talk across difference,” Magill wrote in her email. “Especially in this challenging time, each of us needs to recognize the responsibilities we share to one another and to our community.”