UPenn President Announces Plan to Combat Antisemitism Following Donor Backlash

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On Wednesday, University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) President Liz Magill announced a new action plan that will take steps to address growing instances of antisemitism at the Ivy League school. 

In a letter to the UPenn community, Magill emphasized the university’s commitment to combating antisemitism both on campus and beyond. She acknowledged the challenging times the world is currently facing and the corresponding impact on the university. Magill’s action plan, which resulted from discussions with national and local Jewish leaders, faculty, staff, students, and alumni, emphasizes safety and security, engagement, and education as its primary goals.

“This is an incredibly challenging moment in the world, and we are feeling its reverberations on our campus,” Magill wrote in the letter. “We can and will do better to combat antisemitism and to reject hate in all its forms.”

Key elements of the action plan include the immediate establishment of a university task force on antisemitism and a safety and security review for religious centers affiliated with the university both on and around campus.

Magill expressed her concern for incidents on campus that have left individuals fearing for their safety, terming the situation “completely unacceptable.” Additionally, Magill announced plans to create a presidential commission aimed at addressing Islamophobia and other forms of hate to ensure a more inclusive and respectful environment on campus. 

This move comes in response to growing pressure from donors who have called for her resignation, largely due to their dissatisfaction with the handling of a Palestinian literature festival that took place on campus in September. However, it remains to be seen if these actions will be sufficient to quell the donor backlash, with some figures still calling for Magill and the Penn Board Chair Scott Bok to resign over their perceived inadequate responses.