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U. Pennsylvania anti-Israel activists demand to be allowed to protest as they wish

Want no discipline for activists who violated school policies

The University of Pennsylvania group Freedom School for Palestine is demanding school officials drop disciplinary measures against a quintet of activists for actions at a mid-February “study-in.”

According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, members of the Freedom School “occupied” an area of the Van Pelt Library for about eight hours on February 19, hanging posters “on the furniture and windows” in violation of school policy and allegedly “disrupting” others students trying to study.

Penn officials claim the activists kept re-hanging their posters after being told several times to take them down.

One Freedom School member proclaimed the school “likes to tout how laws without morals are in vain,” but “there doesn’t seem to be any morality” regarding those who choose to support the Palestinians in Gaza.

This past week the Freedom School created a petition calling for a dismissal of any sanctions against the students for their “peaceful nondisruptive” study-in.

The petition offers a slightly different version of what transpired in the library, and alleges Penn targeted the five students due to their “previous affiliation with pro-Palestinian organizing on campus.”

Despite adhering to each and every one of the demands, students were still unjustly referred for disciplinary cases […] The University’s efforts to intimidate student activists demonstrate that Penn is complicit in genocide in Palestine. Not only does the Penn administration’s action not have any basis or foundational evidence backing it, it’s clear that Penn is attempting to chill pro-Palestinian activism and censor speech that its billionaire donors disapprove of. This blatant abuse of power by Penn administrators …

The Freedom School was created in November and initially made three demands of Penn: “call for a ceasefire in Gaza, protect freedom of speech, and establish […] critical thought on Palestine across campus.”

Earlier this month, about a dozen Freedom School activists violated Penn conduct policy again by disrupting a meeting of the Board of Trustees. The meeting was shut down after only a few moments.

The protesters had alleged Penn makes “donations to the I.D.F.,” the Israeli Defense Forces, which a school spokesman denied.

MORE: Penn faculty ‘die-in’ blocks building entrance in ‘solidarity with civilians in Gaza’

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Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.