Updated May 9, 2024 - News

UPenn places 6 students on leave over pro-Palestinian encampment

Tents takeover part of University of Pennsylvania's College Green in late April.

Tents take over part of University of Pennsylvania's College Green in late April. Photo: Mike D'Onofrio/Axios

The University of Pennsylvania has temporarily banned several student protesters from school grounds in response to the ongoing pro-Palestinian encampment on campus.

The big picture: Intensifying student-led protests over the war in Gaza has led university administrations across the country to crack down on demonstrators in unprecedented ways — prompting arrests, suspensions, and commencement cancellations.

State of play: Six students were placed on a "mandatory temporary leave of absence" on Thursday, a university spokesperson tells Axios.

  • Those student can't enter Penn buildings or be on campus — unless they're seeking health care services with an appointment.
  • That also prevents students them from taking part in university-related activities, like graduation events and senior-week activities.

Zoom in: The spokesperson declined to identify the students.

  • It remains unclear how long those students will remain banned or whether the disciplinary action will prevent any from taking finals.

What they're saying: "These actions relate to the university's continuing response to the unauthorized encampment on College Green," the spokesperson said.

Zoom out: Gov. Josh Shapiro, a nonvoting member of Penn's board of trustees, also called for the encampment to end yesterday, saying it had grown "unstable and out of control," per The New York Times.

The other side: Protesters said in a statement that the bans are being used to "keep perceived leaders of the encampment off campus." Two of the students were part of the team negotiating with university leadership, according to the organizers.

  • Organizers claim one international student was prevented from accessing their dorm without notice.
  • Demonstrators occupying the encampment are demanding Penn divest from businesses that have financial ties to Israel, among other things.

Meanwhile, Penn plans to beef up security for its May 20 commencement, Penn administrators said in a statement Thursday.

What we're watching: Administrators warned that more security protocols could be in place by the time graduates walk down the aisle.

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