Penn places students on mandatory leave of absence for pro-Palestine encampment

Further action is pending disciplinary investigations by Penn's Center for Community Standards and Accountability, a Penn spokesperson said.

the encampment at Penn

The Penn Gaza Solidarity Encampment. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Campus Gaza protests: What to know

The University of Pennsylvania has placed six students on a mandatory leave of absence for their reported participation in a pro-Palestine encampment on campus.

The actions against the students are part of Penn’s response to the continued on-campus protest and are pending the results of an investigation by Penn’s Center for Community Standards and Accountability, a school spokesperson told WHYY News.

Those close to the encampment initially said the six students had been suspended. Word of the disciplinary action follows Wednesday’s expansion of the tented encampment, effectively tripling its size.

A mandatory leave of absence is used in “extraordinary circumstances” for “when a student’s presence on campus is deemed by the University to be a threat to order, health, safety, or the conduct of the University’s educational mission,” according to The Daily Pennsylvanian, Penn’s independent, student-run media organization.

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The disciplined students have lost access to their PennCards, which grants them entry into university facilities.

Penn Gaza Solidarity Encampment organizer Rishi Arun said an international student is one of the six suspended students.

“She has to find housing off campus and with no notice,” Arun said. “She has a period where she can move stuff out of a dorm… but it’s only for like, a few hours, so it’s not that long at all and it’s really disgusting.”

Arun said the encampment is “still going to be here” despite the suspensions.

“Until we receive structural change, we won’t be moved,” Arun said. “We won’t be moved by concessions.”

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Last week, 12 students received disciplinary notices from Penn for their reported involvement in the encampment. It’s unclear if further action will be taken against all twelve.

The encampment, now in its second week, is part of a larger movement calling on education institutions to divest their endowments from entities benefiting from the ongoing war.

The encampment has flared tensions on Penn’s campus, with counterprotests and increasing reports of antisemitic and isomorphic incidents.

The university has ordered students to disband immediately.

Penn announced increased security measures Thursday for commencement later this month.

“Penn continues to focus on the safety of our campus, including expanding security presence in response to the expansion of the encampment, despite our efforts to resolve this situation,” a university spokesperson said.

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