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The Coalition to Save the UC Townhomes organized a press conference and rally at 40th and Market streets on April 21. Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

Throughout 2023, the Penn and Philadelphia communities protested against the University's investments in fossil fuels and gentrification in West Philadelphia and Chinatown.

Jan. 10 — The Daily Pennsylvanian reported that two Penn Band members, who were part of the group that interrupted the Homecoming football game against Yale in October 2022, were suspended from band activities until January 2024. They also were prohibited from holding leadership positions in the band at any point in the future. 

Feb. 10 — Fossil Free Penn protesters interrupted a Penn Alumni event — at which Penn President Liz Magill was present — for class presidents, demanding Penn commit $10 million to the preservation of the University City Townhomes. The group marched from the UC Townhomes to Huntsman Hall before interrupting the event. Attendees of the event later told the DP that they felt “alienated” and “uninformed” after the protest

Feb. 21 — The Coalition to Save the UC Townhomes joined Drexel for Justice — a student-led abolitionist group — for a rally on Drexel University’s campus. 

Feb. 22 — Over 30 students and community members affiliated with Students for the Preservation of Chinatown and the Coalition to Save the UC Townhomes gathered outside College Hall prior to the University Council Meeting and Open Forum, demanding that Penn commit $10 million to preserve the UC Townhomes. Multiple students stated their belief that Penn has a responsibility to protect the UC Townhomes. 

March 3 — Over 50 protesters affiliated with SPOC held a demonstration against the proposed Philadelphia 76ers arena in Chinatown. The protest started outside the Campus Apartments office and later moved to the Inn at Penn, where the University Board of Trustees was meeting. Multiple students entered the meeting but were soon asked to leave. Campus Apartments Chief Executive Officer David Adelman is the chair of 76 Devcorp, the private development company behind the proposed arena. 

April 19 — The Asian Pacific Student Coalition delivered a presentation about the proposed 76ers arena at the final University Council meeting of the 2022-23 school year. 

April 19 — Penn joined a coalition to fund support services for UC Townhomes tenants with a $3.5 million settlement. Residents and advocates called the settlement both a victory and the first step in a continued struggle.

April 26 — The Committee on Open Expression held a meeting to hear community concerns about its proposed interpretation of the University’s open expression guidelines. FFP members raised objections to several clauses of the interpretation. 

June 10 — Protesters rallied against the proposed construction of the 76ers arena in Chinatown. Multiple Penn students — including some affiliated with SPOC — spoke at the event. 

Aug. 15 — All UC Townhomes residents were to leave the site by this date. IBID Associates sought the help of Philadelphia’s Eviction Diversion Program to help relocate the remaining tenants. 

Aug. 28Penn Disorientation Guide released its annual issue criticizing Penn’s relationship with and treatment of its students and staff, as well as the wider Philadelphia community. The publication also hosted its first-ever Disorientation Week.

Oct. 1 — FFP organizers criticized Penn for employing lobbyists who were also hired by fossil fuel companies in a press release. The next day, FFP members set up a table on Locust Walk to distribute pamphlets with the names of the lobbyists.  

Oct. 2 — Police Free Penn and other community groups hosted a panel at the LGBT Center to the University's relationship with Black Philadelphia. Topics discussed ranged from the UC Townhomes to Penn’s role in West Philadelphia gentrification. 

Oct. 30 — In a legal complaint written by FFP and filed with Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry, activists argued that the Board of Trustees is violating state law by investing in the fossil fuel industry. Over 150 Penn faculty, alumni, and student groups, as well as location, national, and international organizations signed the complaint. Penn community members — including representatives from Penn’s Young Democratic Socialists of America, SPOC, and Coalition to Save the UC Townhomes — hosted a press conference announcing the filing later that day. 

Dec. 3 — The Coalition to Save the UC Townhomes hosted a candlelight vigil at the site of the UC Townhomes. The event merged with a pro-Palestinian march that started in Rittenhouse Square, and speakers emphasized common stances against gentrification and the war in Gaza. 

Check out the rest of the DP’s Year in Review content here.