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Penn shuts down pro-Palestinian student group

Thomas Fitzgerald, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

PHILADELPHIA — The University of Pennsylvania effectively has banned from campus Penn Against the Occupation, a pro-Palestinian group, by revoking its status as a registered student organization.

Friday’s action was the latest clash in a turbulent wave of activism inspired by the war between Israel and Hamas that has swept American universities and exposed cracks in the Democratic coalition that some political strategists fear imperils the reelection of President Joe Biden.

The university’s action was first reported by the student newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian. Penn Against the Occupation asserted in a statement posted on Instagram that the university also had tried to limit its social media activity.

“This group has failed to comply with policies that govern student organizations at Penn, despite repeated efforts to engage with the group and to provide opportunities to resolve noncompliance,” a Penn spokesperson said in a statement to the DP. The statement did not elaborate on those policies.


A spokesperson for Penn Against the Occupation was quoted as contending that the group was booted because it would not disclose the names of its student organizers, which could put them in danger.

Hundreds of Columbia University students pitched tents on the campus’ South Lawn early April 17 to demand the school divest from companies tied to Israel. New York police arrested 108 protesters Friday at the request of university president Nemat “Minouche” Shafik.

Shafik testified to a U.S. House committee last week that Columbia was cracking down on antisemitism on campus, suspending student protesters and disciplining some professors.

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