Page last updated at 5:50 p.m., Oct 29, 2023

Palestine Writes Literature Festival

The University listened and carefully considered concerns raised about the event, meeting and communicating with members of the Jewish community on and off campus.

  • President Magill engaged in meaningful dialogue with multiple stakeholders, including Penn Trustees and alumni, Penn Hillel leaders, the Anti-Defamation League, and many others.
  • The University initiated a review of the process by which groups external to Penn can reserve space and host events on campus.

Prior to the event, University leaders issued a statement unequivocally and emphatically condemning antisemitism as antithetical to Penn’s institutional values.

  • “We unequivocally — and emphatically — condemn antisemitism as antithetical to our institutional values. As a university, we also fiercely support the free exchange of ideas as central to our educational mission. This includes the expression of views that are controversial and even those that are incompatible with our institutional values.”
  •  President Magill reaffirmed that the University did not, and emphatically does not, endorse the controversial speakers who participated in the event or their views and that the University should have moved faster to share its position strongly and more broadly with the Penn community.

Penn took significant action to ensure the safety of the Jewish community on campus before, during, and after the event.

  • Penn Public Safety provided increased security to Penn Hillel, conducted special checks at Lubavitch House, and provided support for Jewish students living in on-and off-campus housing.

President Magill committed to taking multiple steps to combat antisemitism on campus before the event.

  • Training: The University is incorporating antisemitism awareness as part of its equity and inclusion programs for faculty, staff, and students.
  • Student Programming: The Division of University Life and the Office of the Chaplain are working with student organizations and other groups to create opportunities to bridge understanding of the interconnectedness of different forms of bigotry and oppression and to bring people together to learn from and with one another.
  • Engaging Experts: The University is engaging faculty whose scholarship is grounded in this work and is engaging with leaders and organizations working to combat antisemitism to provide critical guidance and support of this work.

During the event, there were no reports of comments that threatened or called for violence against the Penn community.

  • Penn Open Expression Advisors attended every event in which controversial speakers were featured. Had there been threats or incitement to violence, Penn would have taken immediate action.

Israel-Hamas War

Immediately after the attacks by Hamas on Israel, the University mobilized to support the Penn community on campus and abroad.

  • Penn Global reached out to all known Penn students, faculty, staff, and scholars visiting or studying in Israel to support their safety and to assist them in departing the country.
  • The Division of University Life, the Office of the University Chaplain, Wellness at Penn, and the Division of Public Safety, as well as administrators across Penn’s Schools, provided support to impacted students and student groups, guided by their needs.

University leadership condemned both the Hamas massacre and antisemitism in forceful statements.

  • On October 10, President Magill and Provost Jackson sent a University-wide message condemning the attacks by Hamas on Israel: “We are devastated by the horrific assault on Israel by Hamas that targeted civilians and the taking of hostages over the weekend. These abhorrent attacks have resulted in the tragic loss of life and escalating violence and unrest in the region.”
  • On October 15, President Magill sent a second message to all students, faculty, staff, and alumni again condemning the assault on Israel by Hamas: “I want to leave no doubt about where I stand. I, and this University, are horrified by and condemn Hamas’s terrorist assault on Israel and their violent atrocities against civilians. There is no justification—none—for these heinous attacks, which have consumed the region and are inciting violence in other parts of the world.”