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The Freedom School for Palestine created a petition calling on Penn administrators to drop disciplinary action against students involved with the group. Credit: Joy Lee

The Freedom School for Palestine created a petition calling on Penn administrators to drop the disciplinary action directed at students involved in the Freedom School for Palestine. 

The petition — which is addressed to Interim President Larry Jameson, Vice Provost of University Life Karu Kozuma, Senior Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Tamara Greenfield King, and Penn administrators at large — calls on Penn to dismiss the ongoing disciplinary cases against five students who took part in a Feb. 19 study-in at Van Pelt Library. The petition received 385 signatures by the time of publication.

“Penn is committed to fostering an environment of mutual respect, where ideas can be exchanged freely and openly," a University spokesperson wrote in response to a request for comment. "As we have repeatedly made clear, Penn investigates all potential violations of the University’s policies and takes disciplinary action when violations are found to have occurred."

According to a Feb. 27 press release posted on Instagram, these students received a disciplinary action notice on Feb. 22 due to violations of the University’s Code of Student Conduct and the Guidelines on Open Expression. The Daily Pennsylvanian could not confirm the identities of the five students.

The petition also calls for “[further] efforts to chill pro-Palestinian speech [to] be stopped and investigated by the [University.]” It comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed this week by two Penn professors in conjunction with Penn Faculty for Justice in Palestine. 

The Freedom School and PFJP both contend that the University has continually attempted to prevent speech in opposition to Israel, according to the petition.

The petition criticizes administrators, specifically Kozuma and Greenfield King, contending that their efforts "to chill pro-Palestinian activism and censor speech that its billionaire donors disapprove of" constitute a “blatant abuse of power.” 

On Feb. 19, students affiliated with the Freedom School occupied Van Pelt Library for over eight hours in a study-in that aimed to raise awareness of the Israel-Hamas war's toll on Gaza's education system. The study-in, which was meant to last until midnight, ended earlier than planned when King told students they had “lost [the] privilege” to continue to use the library for the day. 

Students involved in the study-in did not hand over identification at any point during the study-in, and The Daily Pennsylvanian could not confirm how they were then identified for disciplinary action. The Freedom School’s petition contends that the five students who are facing disciplinary action were identified through their previous participation in pro-Palestinian activism on campus.