Around 200 Penn community members attended a vigil mourning the loss of Palestinian lives on Nov. 13.
Supporters began to gather by the LOVE statue — which was decorated with lights and candles — around 5 p.m. Prior to the vigil, the Muslim Students' Association held an evening prayer on College Green with approximately 20 attendees. MSA, Penn Students Against the Occupation, and the Penn Arab Student Society organized the vigil.
An Engineering junior and MSA member, who requested anonymity out of fear for personal safety, told The Daily Pennsylvanian that the student groups “wanted to create the vigil today so people in the community — in the Muslim community, the Arab community, and the general community — can mourn the loss of innocent lives.”
At the vigil, Penn community members read 380 names of Palestinian lives lost from six families — a portion of the over 11,000 Palestinians who have been killed since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, according to Reuters. The names were read by family in descending order of age, and attendees were given white roses with the names of Palestinians killed.
“When we think about advocating for Palestine, it’s important for us to take a second and understand the loss of life and the size of loss of life," Wharton junior and MSA President Rayane Taroua said. "11,000 is a much bigger number than we can fathom."
Taroua said that it is important to recognize that Palestinians are more than just casualty counts, they are "humans with lives with stories, with dreams."
When asked about the goal of the vigil, a board representative for the MSA, who requested anonymity out of fear for personal safety, said that he hopes “that people take away that the conflict really affects everyone, and it really has a toll on everyone.”
The MSA board representative said that Penn administration had been supportive of the vigil, but mainly on the “back end.” He said that he felt that on the public-facing front, statements have been one-sided, citing President Liz Magill’s emails to the Penn community, only one of which mentioned Palestine or Palestinians.
Multiple Penn administrators — including Vice Provost for University Life Karu Kozuma — were present at the event.
Monday’s vigil comes after multiple pro-Palestinian rallies, walkouts, and vigils have taken place on Penn's campus since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. Most recently, on Nov. 9, Penn community members participated in a national walkout demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.
“It's our duty as a community, when a part of us is suffering, to come together and support each other,” the MSA board member said.