Penn President Liz Magill named 20 community members to join the University's antisemitism task force, part of the campus-wide plan to combat antisemitism announced earlier this month.
In an announcement published Friday morning, Magill shared additional information about the work of the task force, which is chaired by Morton Amsterdam Dean of the School of Dental Medicine Mark S. Wolff. The group will includes seven faculty representatives from multiple Penn schools, two student representatives, and six staff, alumni, and Trustee representatives.
The task force, which the announcement calls the “centerpiece” of Penn’s action plan, is charged with providing critical feedback and actionable solutions when it comes to tackling antisemitism. The student members are College junior Maya Harpaz and Graduate and Professional Student Assembly President Michael Krone, a University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and Wharton MBA student.
Other members of the task force include Deputy Provost and former Interim Provost Beth Winkelstein, Penn Hillel Executive Director and Rabbi Gabe Greenberg, Katz Center of Advanced Judaic Studies Director Steven Weitzman, and Faculty Senate Tri-Chair Eric A. Feldman.
In an email sent to the Penn community Friday morning, Wolff emphasized the urgency of the task force's work and encouraged student participation. According to the email, the task force will not serve any bias reporting, public safety, or disciplinary functions.
Magill announced the antisemitism action plan on Nov. 1, sharing a series of action steps to improve safety and security, engagement, and education on campus based on the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. The plan garnered support and skepticism from members of the Penn community and its donors, with some saying that the plan does not provide enough support to either Jewish or Palestinian communities on campus.
The task force will work with local and national leaders and experts to determine best practices for countering antisemitism. The group will present these findings via regular updates, including a preliminary status report by Feb. 15, 2024 and a final report by May 17, 2024.
“Penn’s campus cannot and will not be a comfortable or uncontested space for antisemitism,” Magill wrote in the announcement. “The Task Force is critical to Penn’s commitment to counter this threat.”
University Chaplain and Vice President for Social Equity and Community Chaz Howard, a member of the task force, said it was essential for Penn to educate the community on antisemitism and “how it relates to other forms of hate and bias.”
In addition to the task force, Magill previously announced that she would convene a Presidential Commission to examine the “interconnectedness of antisemitism and other forms of hate, including Islamophobia.”
The announcement comes soon after the United States Department of Education opened investigations into Penn and six other schools over alleged instances of antisemitism and Islamophobia, which was first reported by CNN yesterday.
This is the latest of Magill’s announcements related to the ongoing on-campus discourse surrounding the Israel-Hamas War and Palestine Writes Literature Festival, which have included a series of protests, vigils, and reports of antisemitism — as well as ongoing donor backlash.
“I also encourage the Penn community to engage with the Task Force’s efforts,” Magill wrote. “I believe Penn can become a higher education leader in the fight against antisemitism, but it will take all of us working together to make serious and lasting change.”