Temple students face charges for participating in Penn encampment protests

Following the 16-day encampment on Penn campus, Penn, Drexel and Temple students are seeing legal and university-level consequences.

At least one Temple student has been arrested for participating in an encampment on the University of Pennsylvania's campus. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

At least one Temple student was arrested on charges of defiant trespass on June 19 for participating in the pro-Palestine encampment on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus on May 10.

The arrests came after the decision was made to add to previous misdemeanor charges for the student’s participation in another protest on Penn’s campus on May 17. The students were released after paying an outstanding $2,500 bail the next day and being processed in Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, an arrested Temple student, who chose to remain anonymous, told The Temple News.

“The pressing of charges, arrests and jailing of Temple and other students at the behest of the University of Pennsylvania is yet another cruel and reckless abuse of power,” wrote Pennsylvania State Rep. Christopher Rabb, in a statement to The Temple News. “The complicity of Penn, Temple and the Philadelphia Police Department in the surveillance, targeting and punishment of nonviolent student protesters further erodes public trust in these institutions.”

Rabb has been in contact with the arrested student, and multiple others, throughout the proceedings.

Communication between Temple and Penn led to students quietly receiving disciplinary action from Temple. At least two Temple students received referrals from the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards for three violations of the student code. The violations include failure to comply with law enforcement, disorderly conduct and damage to property, according to an email sent to the Temple student.

“It’s a ridiculous precedent to set that my university, Temple, is disciplining me for being part of the Penn encampment and getting arrested,” the Temple student said.

Temple’s Division of Student Affairs did not respond to The Temple News’ request for comment.


Student protesters from various colleges in the Philadelphia-area are facing charges for two events: the day the encampment was dismantled on May 10, and the follow-up protest where students occupied Fisher-Bennett Hall on Penn’s campus on May 19.

Starting April 25, students protested for 16 days by camping on Penn’s College Green space. The group hosted guest speakers and met with Penn administration multiple time to negotiate the end of the encampment and theirs demands — disinvestment from corporations that profit from Israel and protections for Palestinian and pro-Palestinian students.

Before the camp’s disbandment, Penn students had Community Standards and Accountability cases filed against them, with other schools like Temple making requests to talk about student’s individual participation, the Temple student said.

Penn said in a statement on May 10 that the students demands were not possible, being “unequivocally opposed to divestment,” and that the encampment had received notices that they were in violation of Penn policies. 

“At 6 a.m., we were given a two minute warning, at which point the riot cops came in, began to rip people off of the ground from where we were standing and [using] excessive force which resulted in two dislocated shoulders, head trauma, bruised arms,” a Penn student at the encampment who wished to to remain anonymous told The Temple News. “They were kneeing people in the back and in the face, pulling their hair. And then ultimately, all of those people were taken to jail.”

During and after the encampment, multiple students who were arrested were banned from Penn’s campus. Some Temple students received requests from Temple’s Dean of Students office to talk about their participation, though it was not a mandatory meeting, the Temple student said.

On May 17, a week after the disbandment, protestors gathered again at Fisher-Bennett Hall in an attempt to occupy and barricade the building. Minutes after the protest began, police entered to make arrests.

The Temple student said others were shoved into railings, dragged across the floor, tased, punched and sat on.

“I remember being in the van and hearing people chanting outside the van and all of a sudden, the chanting stops and all I hear is someone screaming, hysterically screaming while being tased,” the Temple student said. “The cops are just yelling ‘Move, move, move.’ It was a very, very violent scene.”

On June 19, Students for Justice in Palestine posted a statement on Instagram on their experiences that day, but it was taken down two days later.

Twelve people received citations for failure to disperse and failure to follow police commands, while seven were to receive felony charges, Penn wrote in a media statement on May 18.

A month later, Penn students then faced retroactive charges for trespassing on May 10, which led to a new warrant for their arrest.

It took 26 hours for the Temple students to be released, as they were transferred and processed in CFCF, though the $2,500 needed for bail was paid in the first few hours.

“It’s so blatant,” the Temple student said. “They’re literally just targeting people for protesting at Penn. They’re targeting people who are part of the Penn encampment with disciplinary action, who aren’t Penn students. Not even mentioning what I’m sure Penn students are going through, which is also ridiculous. And they’re chasing us through the legal system because they have the means to do so.”


In the beginning of June, at least two Temple students quietly received a notice from the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, referred by the Temple University Police Department, which made specific reference to the events that occurred on May 10. 

The referral alleges disorderly conduct and damage to property, but the Temple student denied committing any violence, creating offensive environments or the destruction of property that the codes suggest.

“There are any number of folks who graduated, who may have received honorary degrees, who have whole courses written about them, where there are tenured professors who have written about and extolled the value of these extraordinary people who, by Temple’s own practices, [they] would seek to punish,” Rabb said. “There needs to be some moral clarity. There needs to be some consistency with how it chooses to engage students who are doing things that on paper may violate the Student Code of Ethics.”

Temple’s Division of Student Affairs did not respond to The Temple News’ request for comment.


Some progressive legislators in the Pennsylvania House have been in contact with Temple Governmental Affairs about the decision to discipline students over these actions, Rabb said.

Every year, Temple seeks approval for annual appropriations from the state legislature — $158.2 million per year for the past five years. However, Rabb and other progressives say they would consider voting against the appropriations bill following the disciplining and arrests, he said.

“I think Temple is playing a very dangerous game when it relies on legislators for this massive amount of money every year and does things that are indirect, that are highly misaligned with the priorities and values of the majority in the House of Representatives,” Rabb said.

The House will soon vote on funding for Temple and other public schools in the state. Last year, the state-related university appropriations bill failed multiple times in the state House over the summer before it was passed in November.

“I’d like to know that [Temple is] not cherry picking for political reasons, to get in the good graces of my right wing colleagues, to get enough votes to get money,” Rabb said.

The pro-Palestine students maintain their goal of divestment from Israel, at a time when a recently introduced “Stand with Israel” Act would make it possible to block state funding for universities, including Temple, from doing so.

“Everything that we have been through, whether it’s getting arrested, brutalized, being thrown in jail, facing disciplinary charges, that is nothing compared to what people in Palestine are going through every day,” the Penn student said. “But the fact that this genocide continues and institutions like Penn want to do everything they possibly can to stop people from bringing attention to that and bringing attention to their role in it.”

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