Penn Bans Protest Encampments From Its Campus

The University of Pennsylvania issued temporary rules on Thursday that significantly rein in protests on campus and explicitly ban encampments. The action came less than a month after the police cleared away a pro-Palestinian encampment at the university and arrested 33 people.

Scores of encampments protesting against Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza sprang up at universities across the country this spring, leading to more than 3,000 arrests since mid-April and to heightened tensions between students and universities.

“To ensure the safety of the Penn community and to protect the health and property of individuals, encampments and overnight demonstrations are not permitted in any university location, regardless of space (indoor or outdoor),” Penn’s new rules for protests say, adding, “Unauthorized overnight activities will be considered trespassing and addressed.”

The rules also forbid protests that prevent speakers on campus from expressing their views or “other members of the community from hearing or seeing the speaker.” They bar students from projecting slogans onto buildings or writing slogans on them in semi-permanent or permanent chalk or marker.

Penn’s administration said that the new rules, which will be reviewed by a faculty-led task force in the 2024-2025 academic year, were issued in response to calls for more clarity about what is permitted on campus.

The administration said that the rules “aim to enable free expression while allowing Penn to deliver its core missions of teaching, research, service and patient care without disruption.”

The move reflects the strictness of the stance Penn is taking on how to deal with political protests, an issue universities nationwide have been grappling with following months of demonstrations against the war in Gaza. The protests have challenged the ability of university administrations to balance free speech on campus with the safety of students.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


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