Penn launched a new online resource to assist community members facing online harassment amid ongoing campus tensions surrounding the Israel-Hamas war.
Penn's Office of Audit, Compliance, and Privacy website provides information regarding online harassment and how community members can receive support. The resource is part of an ongoing collaboration between the Division of Public Safety, University Life, the Office of Audit, Compliance, and Privacy, the Center for Community Standards and Accountability, the Office of General Counsel, and Wellness at Penn.
"Penn seeks to foster an environment where all students, faculty, and staff can fully engage in the academic and social experience, free from harassment, intimidation, and threat of harm. We strongly condemn [doxxing] and other forms of online harassment," the website says. "Such behavior is counter to Penn’s commitment to creating an inclusive community that upholds our fundamental values of academic freedom, open expression, and productive exchange of perspectives and ideas."
Resources include DPS’s phone number (215-573-3333), which can be called for immediate response, or their Report Online Harassment Form, which can be filled out for a response within 48 hours. Moreover, Penn community members can report harassment through Penn’s Special Services phone number at 215-898-4481 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If students are seeking guidance and do not wish to report online harassment, the website connects students with Penn’s Student Intervention Services and University Life. Faculty and staff can similarly connect with their department or Special Services.
The website provides definitions of several types of online harassment, including doxxing, cyberbullying, and trolling. The resource also includes the Principles of Responsible Conduct, which outline the University's ethical expectations.
The website release comes after community members at peer institutions have experienced instances of online harassment due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Doxxing trucks featuring names and faces of students who had signed a Palestinian solidarity statement appeared at Columbia last week. A similar truck appeared at Harvard, and a website with the names of Harvard affiliates was also shared online.
Penn students and faculty have experienced violent threats after their involvement in Pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
On Oct. 17, DPS sent a message to Penn community members amid the recent campus demonstrations, where they acknowledged that community members have "expressed concern for their sense of safety" as a result of the violence between Israel and Hamas and "the growing activism on campus and more broadly in the world.”
“Penn Police will take immediate action should there be any physical threat of harm and pursue it to the fullest extent of the law,” Vice President for Public Safety Kathleen Shields Anderson wrote in the message.