The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with several accepted students about their perspective on recent administrative turmoil at Penn following the release of the early decision admissions for the Class of 2028.
The announcement of early decision results on Dec. 14 came at the end of a tumultuous fall semester that included controversy surrounding the Palestine Writes Literature Festival, tensions over the Israel-Hamas War, and the resignations of Liz Magill and Scott Bok. Over 8,500 students applied to Penn through the Early Decision Program this year, submitting the contractually binding agreement by Nov. 1 — prior to Magill and Bok's resignations.
Incoming Class of 2028 students shared their concerns about administrative turmoil and the campus climate, as well as their hopes for the University’s direction by the time they matriculate.
Incoming Wharton first-year Shawn Gutierrez said that he was aware of tensions on the Penn campus while researching schools, beginning with the Palestine Writes festival. Despite concerns about Penn’s social situation and how the administration was protecting its students, he ultimately decided to submit his early decision application to Penn.
“I applied to Penn because it was my dream school, a place of so many different opportunities and innovation,” he said. “I feel like the benefits kind of outweighed the costs for me.”
Incoming College first-year Amy Liao said that Penn had been one of her top choice schools for several years. She stated that witnessing the administration’s response to campus turmoil made her question the stability of University leadership, as well as how it might respond to hate crimes beyond antisemitic incidents.
Liao added that Magill’s departure might signal the start of a “better future” for the campus community.
“I think her resignation is a good way to reset and for Penn to get a refreshing start and create a safe community for all,” she said.
Students also shared parental concerns about their matriculation in the fall.
Incoming Wharton first-year Jacques Papescu said that his parents felt cautious about his attending Penn throughout the application process.
“My parents did have some hesitation during that period,” he said. “They were kind of on that line about submitting the application.”
Incoming College first-year Ryan Lee said that leading up to Magill’s resignation, his parents were concerned about the threats to students’ safety on campus, as well as education.
However, some students said that they felt hopeful about the upcoming year after being admitted and learning more about the University environment.
When incoming College first-year Gavin Sternberg visited campus in October, he asked his friends and the Penn Hillel staff if they felt safe on campus. He stated that their affirmative responses encouraged him to attend.
“I think everyone’s still very happy to be at the school, and what social media and what media is saying about Penn is only a very small portion of what the campus actually represents,” Sternberg said.
Several recently admitted students expressed optimism about the University’s direction by the time they arrive on campus.
Although incoming first-year in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business Arjun Setty said he closely followed the debates over free speech at Penn, he never doubted his decision to apply early, trusting in the University’s ability to protect all of its students. He added that his experience speaking to current students and researching resources for the Asian American community reinforced his belief that Penn respects diverse opinions.
“I never second guessed Penn’s ability to protect its students and protect minorities on its campus,” Setty said. “I really hope my assumption was correct.”
Gutierrez shared his hope that the University would be looking forward to a “new horizon” by the time the newly admitted class started their fall semester.
“Hopefully, we can find established leadership who will advocate for the students and make sure that all students coming to campus feel that they are in the right place, and they don’t have any doubts about why they applied there in the first place,” he said.