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HomeGeneralStudents Urge Ongoing Change as Penn Leaders Resign

Students Urge Ongoing Change as Penn Leaders Resign

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A picture of the Ivy League presidents, Sally Kornbluth. Elizabeth Magill, and Claudine Gay at the hearing.
Source: Twitter/NYPost

On Sunday, students on the University of Pennsylvania campus said that the resignations of President Liz Magill and Scott Bok, Chairman of Penn’s Board of Trustees, haven’t reduced the call for more changes at the school.

“There’s a realization that one step is over,” said junior Akiva Berkowitz outside Steinhardt Hall, home to the campus’ Jewish organization Hillel. “But the process is not, and I don’t want people to think this is the end. Many things still need to happen. A lot still needs to change.”

Magill resigned on Saturday following criticism of her congressional testimony on antisemitism at college campuses. Critics argued that Magill and the presidents of Harvard and MIT failed to address intimidation and hate speech incidents at their institutions sufficiently.

ALSO READ: The Department of Education Is Investigating 6 More Schools For Anti-Muslim Discrimination as The Israel-Hamas War Continues

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Harvard University’s Claudine Gay and MIT’s Sally Kornbluth testified before the congressional committee. Similar to Magill, both being lawyers, they provided carefully worded statements that some believed did not fully address the issues.

Sophomore Jack Cohen emphasized to USA TODAY that students at Penn need to witness tangible actions being taken.

“It’s not comfortable being here,” the São Paolo, Brazil, native said. “At the end of the day, we want to see more change. We want to feel more supported. ‘Change’ is the key word, change for the better.”

POLL — Should Public Schools Include Critical Race Theory and Sex Education in Their Curriculum?

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Magill took over as Penn’s president in 2022, succeeding Amy Gutmann, who became the U.S. ambassador to Germany. Magill will stay until an interim president is chosen and will continue as a faculty member at the law school.

In September, the Hillel Center was vandalized, with a swastika spray-painted on a wall at the Stuart Weitzman School of Design just before Rosh Hashanah. The university newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian, reported the incidents.

The October 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas and Israel’s swift and sweeping incursions into Gaza inflamed tensions on the already-simmering campus. Some students at Penn believed there was insufficient support for Jewish students.

They felt that the rhetoric of pro-Palestinian protesters crossed the line into antisemitism. Graduate student Megan Singleton at the Weitzman School expressed satisfaction with Magill’s resignation, particularly following her testimony before Congress.

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ALSO READ: Teacher’s Union Rep. Bags Suspension after Making Antisemitic Comments on Social Media 

Tawanda Gibbs, a food service worker at Penn, mentioned feels Magill was pressured to leave and remarked, “There’s racism here. There’s always been racism here. They’re making much of it now, but it’s not new here.”

A lawyer for Eyal Yacoby and Jordan Davis, who on Tuesday sued the University of Pennsylvania over “virulent anti-Jewish hatred, harassment, and discrimination” at the institution, said Magill’s resignation is only the first action in restoring the school to a better place for Jewish students.

“This resignation is the first of many necessary steps toward rebuilding a Penn free of antisemitic abuse and harassment,” lawyer Marc Kasowitz said. “The lawsuit we have brought on behalf of courageous Penn students will ensure that that goal is achieved.” 

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