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Nine members of the Gaza Solidarity Encampment received disciplinary notices from administration on May 6. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

Penn referred nine students for disciplinary action due to their involvement in the Gaza Solidarity Encampment, an encampment spokesperson said Tuesday after a group of eight organizers met with administrators.

At a press conference on College Green, the spokesperson shared additional information about disciplinary notices against participants in the pro-Palestinian demonstration — describing the administration as having “doubled down on their oppression toward the encampment." The revelation came as the encampment approached its third week on campus.

“This time, the administration seemingly targeted students at random, only giving cases to people who had previously been disciplined for past activism on campus,” they said. 

The University originally opened three disciplinary cases against students on April 29, and their hearings with the Center for Community Standards and Accountability were scheduled for May 2, according to an organizer with the encampment. The encampment spokesperson said that all three were students who had spoken to members of the press, and said it was “clearly an intimidation tactic intended to silence us.”

“The Penn administration would prefer us [to] stay silent about the genocide in Gaza, and they would rather bully us out of talking to the press than engage with their own complicity in genocide,” they said.

At the time, a University spokesperson wrote to The Daily Pennsylvanian that faculty and staff violations “will follow the relevant disciplinary processes.”

“These actions, while unfortunate, are necessary,” the spokesperson wrote.

While more students have been referred for disciplinary action, the spokesperson said during Tuesday's press conference that protesters had met with Penn officials this morning for negotiations. Negotiations — which lasted approximately three hours and included eight people — “felt in good faith" and encampment negotiators provided administrators with their list of demands, the spokesperson added.

Organizers are demanding that the University disclose its financial holdings, divest financially from “corporations that profit from Israel’s war on Gaza and occupation in Palestine” and condemn the “scholasticide” of Palestinian scholars and universities. They are also urging Penn to defend Palestinian students and withdraw its disciplinary actions against pro-Palestinian activists, including the ban on Penn Students Against the Occupation of Palestine’s student group status.

“The meeting this morning was very optimistic, and hopefully, the school stays true to what it has promised and continues with this notion of working together as a community,” they said.

The meeting this morning marks at least the third formal round of negotiations between Penn’s administration and the encampment’s organizers. 

After the second round of negotiations, a faculty member directly familiar with the matter told the DP that there have been ongoing conversations between administrators and faculty who are “requesting good faith negotiations from both sides to arrive at a peaceful resolution of the conflict.”

The faculty member also said at the time that Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Krajewski (D-Philadelphia) — who represents Penn and has been present at multiple days of the encampment — was willing to assist with negotiations. Krajewski told the DP at the time that he was willing to help “in whatever capacity” to protect students from disciplinary action and satisfy their demands.

A source familiar confirmed to the DP that Penn’s administration declined to have Krajewski and Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner — who has also visited the encampment on multiple occasions — present during negotiations.

The encampment spokesperson also pushed back against interim President Larry Jameson's recent characterization of the encampment as “unwilling to negotiate” in his Monday message to the University community, in which he ordered the demonstration to disband or face increasing disciplinary consequences.

"It has been Penn’s administration that has resorted to intimidation, threats, and disciplinary actions against students,” they said.

The spokesperson also said encampment members “are here to stay” — suggesting that upcoming events such as graduation and alumni weekend, which are scheduled for May 17 to 20, will not constrain the duration of the encampment.

“We are here to stay. It does not matter to us when graduation is or when alumni weekend is,” they said. “There are more important things than graduating.”

But the protesters “are not at this point planning to disrupt the graduation," the spokesperson said.