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Fossil Free Penn protesters demonstrate on Franklin Field during halftime at the Homecoming football game against Yale on Oct. 22, 2022. Credit: Jesse Zhang

Student Advocacy

Throughout the 2022-23 school year, Penn witnessed heightened student activism across campus in the form of major demonstrations and a multi-week encampment. Many student-led protests sought to halt University expansion into the wider Philadelphia area.

In August, around 100 protesters interrupted former Penn President Liz Magill’s Convocation address to denounce Penn’s displacement of University City Townhomes residents.  

In the fall, students continued to voice their dissatisfaction with a diverse range of University policies. Holding a five-week encampment on College Green, members of Fossil Free Penn called for University divestment from fossil fuels, support for UC Townhomes’ preservation, and payments in lieu of taxes to Philadelphia public schools. In late October, protesters involved with FFP stormed Franklin Field during the annual homecoming game to push University administrators to meet student demands.

Students for the Preservation of Chinatown — a coalition of college students in the Philadelphia area — held a campus-wide march in November opposing city officials’ plans to construct a new Philadelphia 76ers arena near Chinatown. Protests persisted into late March, culminating in a demonstration outside a University Board of Trustees meeting, in which students called for Penn to rupture ties to arena developers. 

The year’s rise in student advocacy sparked broader examinations of free speech and open expression across college campuses. Amid debates over Penn’s interpretation of open expression guidelines, The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with University administrators and student activists about the guidelines’ implications for students’ rights to free expression. 

Housing and Dining

In August 2022, the Board of Trustees voted to enter into a three-year lease with The Radian to provide upperclassmen housing amid ongoing renovations to the Quad. 

More than 700 rising juniors and seniors were placed on a waiting list for on-campus housing, inciting uncertainty among students as they waited for a randomized housing assignment.

Penn Dining diversified its food offerings in response to student feedback. New menu items included breakfast smoothies, all-day breakfast sandwiches at Gourmet Grocer, more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and more frequent made-to-order pasta at each dining hall. 

A winter investigation conducted by the Philadelphia Office of Food Protection recorded 100 health code violations across Penn Dining locations. To address concerns following the failed inspection, Penn Dining implemented a new action plan to meet health and safety regulations. 

In April, dining facilities began stricter enforcement of their policy requiring students to present their PennCards prior to entering different dining facilities. The policy prevented students from using excess swipes to grant their peers access to certain dining locations, inciting backlash from some who criticized the policy as excessively restrictive.

The DP evaluated alternative cuisine offerings outside the Penn dining plan, examining retail options in University City ranging from local food trucks to Bring-Your-Own restaurants.


2023 witnessed the largest number of applications in Penn's history, with over 59,000 students applying for a spot in the Class of 2027. Despite a record-breaking admission cycle, Penn declined to reveal the admit rate and demographic data of the admitted class. Penn also lifted enrollment deposits for incoming students, eliminating the need for students to pay part of their tuition prior to the start of the fall semester. 

Penn Admissions reinstated all-day programming for Quaker Days, as hundreds of admitted students visited campus in mid April. Additionally, fall of 2022 marked the first time that Kite and Key tour guides were compensated for their work across campus.

Amid ongoing policy changes under Dean of Admissions Whitney Soule, the DP spoke to alumni, students, and college administrators about updates to the preferential treatment of legacy applicants. Jordan Pascucci assumed her role as Penn's new vice dean and director of admissions in March 2023 following John McLaughlin’s abdication.

Additionally, Penn prepared for the possibility of the Supreme Court’s overturning of affirmative action in college admissions. After the court ruling in June, Magill and Provost John Jackson Jr. released a statement emphasizing the importance of a diverse academic community while saying that Penn would fully comply with the law.