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The Presidential Commission on Countering Hate and Building Community announced its members for the spring semester. 

Credit: Derek Wong

The Presidential Commission on Countering Hate and Building Community announced its members and goals for the spring semester.

The Commission, which reports to Interim President Larry Jameson, aims to address "the interconnectedness of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate, discrimination, and bias" on campus, according to the announcement on Monday. The group is co-chaired by Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science Vijay Kumar and Dean of the Graduate School of Education Katharine Strunk.

Other Commission members include two student representatives, 14 faculty and staff representatives from multiple Penn schools, and three alumni and trustee representatives. The Commission is charged with providing critical feedback on addressing hate, discrimination, and bias on campus, in tandem with the work of the ongoing University task force to combat antisemitism. 

“We convened the Presidential Commission to take the lead on bringing our broad Penn community together to undergo the essential, healing work that this moment requires,” Jameson said in the announcement. “Hate has no home here, and we are committed to rooting it out in all its forms.” 

The student members are College senior and Undergraduate Assembly Vice President Ranim Albarkawi, and Adina Goldstein, an Ed.D. candidate in the Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education Division at GSE. Other Commission members include Vice Provost for University Life Hikaru Kozuma, co-director of the Asian American Studies program Fariha Khan, and History and Sociology of Science professor Harun Küçük.

The Commission will engage with students, staff, and faculty to understand how they experience hate and discrimination and consider “what it means to be a responsible and engaged Penn Citizen.” It will also recommend strategies for strengthening Penn’s sense of community, addressing hate on campus, and supporting those who have been impacted.

“Together, we will listen, we will learn, and we will work to make our community even stronger and ensure Penn remains a place where everyone feels empowered to thrive,” Kumar and Strunk said in the announcement. 

The Commission will consult with campus leaders and subject matter experts outside of the University. They expect to make an interim report with recommendations during the spring semester.

Penn first announced the presidential commission in the fall semester as part of a University-wide action plan to combat antisemitism. In an email to the Penn community, former Penn President Liz Magill pledged to address forms of hate faced by Palestinian, Muslim, and Arab communities on campus. 

The action plan also includes a task force on antisemitism, chaired by Morton Amsterdam Dean of the School of Dental Medicine Mark Wolff. The membership of the task force, which Magill announced in November of last year, includes seven faculty representatives from multiple Penn schools, two student representatives, and six staff, alumni, and trustee representatives.