May 10, 2024
To the Penn Community:

We have worked with serious intention for nearly two weeks to engage the protestors on College Green, who were notified on April 26th – the second day of the encampment – that they were in violation of Penn’s policies. This outreach has been met by unreasonable demands and a dangerous escalation of the encampment.

Our community has been under threat and our campus disrupted for too long. Passion for a cause cannot supersede the safety and operations of our University. Early this morning, we took action, with support from local law enforcement, to remove the encampment. We would like to express our gratitude to the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Police Department for their support. This is an unfortunate but necessary step to prevent violence, restore operations, and return our campus to our community.

Under these extraordinary circumstances, and to provide for the safety of our community, access to the College Green area of campus will be restricted until further notice. Those wishing to enter the area will be required to show a valid PennCard. Those without proper identification will be asked to leave and, if necessary, will be escorted off campus, or considered trespassing.

The protestors refused repeatedly to disband the encampment, to produce identification, to stop threatening, loud, and discriminatory speech and behavior, and to comply with instructions from Penn administrators and Public Safety. Instead, they called for others to join them in escalating their disruptions and expanding their encampment, necessitating that we take action to protect the safety and rights of everyone in our community. We could not allow further disruption of our academic mission. We could not allow students to be prevented from accessing study spaces and resources, attending final exams, or participating in Commencement ceremonies, which for many did not happen during the pandemic. 

University leaders met with representatives of the encampment on multiple occasions, for extended periods of time. We hoped that reasonable conversations could address both the concerns of protestors and the needs of the University. We made clear that their proposals were not possible, including their demands that participating students and faculty receive amnesty without proceeding through our due process for conduct and for divestment from entities engaged with Israel. Penn remains unequivocally opposed to divestment, and it is unlawful for institutions receiving funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

We also made clear that the encampment needed to disband and offered ways in which the protestors could continue their demonstration in compliance with our policies. We proposed, and still hope to deploy, Penn’s academic resources to support rebuilding and scholarly programs in Gaza, Israel, and other areas of the Middle East. Despite diligent efforts to find a path forward, the gap between the positions of many in the encampment and the University proved too wide to bridge in this volatile environment, while the risks to our community and our missions continued to increase.

This decision is viewpoint neutral and affirmed by our policies. There are times when our abiding commitment to open expression requires balancing free speech with our responsibility to safety, security, and continuing the operations of the University. This is one of those times and why we have acted. Open expression and peaceful protest are welcome on our campus, but vandalism, trespassing, disruption, and threatening language and actions are not.

J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD
Interim President

John L. Jackson, Jr.

Craig R. Carnaroli
Senior Executive Vice President