The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Penn student groups released a joint statement on Nov. 26 in response to the shooting of three Palestinian college students in Vermont. Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

The Penn Arab Student Society, Penn Against the Occupation, and the Penn Muslim Student Association released a joint statement on Nov. 26 in response to the recent shooting of three Palestinian college students. 

The statement comes after three Palestinian students — Tahseen Ali Ahmad, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Hisham Awartani — were shot in Burlington, Vt. over the weekend in what police have described as a possible hate crime. The students were speaking Arabic and wearing keffiyehs, according to CNN. The statement from Penn student groups encouraged University community members to report incidents where they feel unsafe on campus.

“Each and every single one of you deserves to feel safe. You are just as entitled to the same level of protection and belonging as anyone else on our campus," the statement said. "We have to have each other’s backs.” 

Additionally, the statement encouraged students to report these incidents so "institutions can understand and confront just how big of an issue Anti-Arab and Islamophobic hate has become."

In request for comment about the joint statement, the Division of Public Safety encouraged students to contact emergency resources and emphasized their commitment to the safety of the Penn community.

"Call Public Safety should you be in imminent danger at 215-573-3333, or dial 911 if you are outside of the Penn patrol zone. Public Safety will continue to be here for the safety and wellbeing for all of our community," DPS wrote in a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

The statement from the three Penn groups added that the incident is a result of ingrained racism, fear-mongering, and misinformation “from the highest levels of our government down to our very own universities and classmates.” 

All three of the victims who were wounded had graduated from Ramallah Friends School, and the statement referenced how several Penn students had attended the same school. It also addressed how Abdalhamid, one of the victims, was "part of our neighboring Haverford community."

A Penn junior on the executive board of Penn MSA, who requested anonymity out of fear of personal safety, said that they knew Abdalhamid personally. 

“It felt more real and actually hurt a lot more because this is someone I knew, someone I've met and worked with,” the executive board member said. 

A College senior in PASS also reflect on how the incident directly affected those close to their community.

“This was a hate crime targeting our identities. One of the victims, [Abdalhamid], was at our events, shared our food, danced with us, laughed with us, gave us joy and he was almost taken away from us.”

Another Penn student in MSA, who also requested anonymity due to fear of personal safety, said that the rise of Islamophobia in the past month was a result of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and described the importance of publishing this statement.

“If we don't speak about this now, I feel like people are gonna take these incidents too lightly, and not do enough work to protect Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim students,” the student said. 

Other pro-Palestinian student groups in the Ivy League have taken measures in response to the shooting. Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee, in cooperation with other pro-Palestinian student groups in the Ivy League, including PAO, has organized a Wear Your Keffiyeh All Week event, asking that students wear keffiyehs and the colors of the Palestinian flag to show their solidarity with Palestine. 

At a vigil held for the victims at Brown University — where Awartani is enrolled — on Nov. 27, attendees disrupted the University president's remarks, calling for Brown to divest its endowment from companies affiliated with Israel.

The statement also includes a list of resources for reporting crimes against Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim students, including an anonymous report system to PASS, MSA, and PAO. It also included a joint statement released by the victims’ families. 

“To our peers: recognize Palestinians,  Arabs, and Muslims as fellow human beings. Speak up when you see something wrong,” the statement said, adding that "we are your classmates, friends, professors, health care providers, and neighbors." 

A senior in PASS said that they hope the resources will help members of the Penn community "find official routes of support."

Penn’s HELP Line: 215-898-HELP (available 24/7) 
Student Health and Counseling: 215-746-9355
Wellness at Penn: 215-746-3535
Managing Stress in Uncertain Times
Student Intervention Services: 215-898-6081
International Student and Scholar Services: 215-898-4661
Dialogue Resources from SNF Paideia 

Office of the Chaplain: 215-898-8456
Weingarten Learning Resources Center: 215-573-9235
Special Services (within Division of Public Safety): 215-898-6600
Employee Assistance Program: 866-799-2329