It started when former Penn President Liz Magill permitted Palestinian student organizations to organize a “literature festival” on campus that any reasonably-thinking person knew would be a platform for antisemitic speech. That’s when the antisemitic incidents on campus began, including bomb threats at Hillel House and Chabad. It was exacerbated when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and committed unspeakable atrocities to over 1200 babies, women, men, and the elderly. Palestinian students and their supporters marched through campus with signs and chants demanding the destruction of the State of Israel and the genocide of Jewish people everywhere.

The Penn administration’s support for the Jewish students and organizations on campus was woefully lacking. Jewish students were harassed and afraid to go to classes or walk on Penn property. Magill appeared in front of the House Committee on Education where she expressed the Penn administration’s opinion that demanding the genocide of Jews was not a violation of Penn’s code of student conduct because no Jews have been physically attacked or killed on campus due to these protests.

The Internet has provided a means and platform for Beta Pi brothers to come together to discuss the terrible troubles that have befallen Penn, express their opinions as to what should be done, and to keep everyone informed on the latest news and developments.

Early on, David Berkman ’80 prepared a letter addressed to Magill. He found Magill’s actions to be “appalling” and “The University has failed to provide the necessary leadership to set the tone for both a safe and non-hostile environment.” He received emails of support from John Joseph ’80, Bora Sila ’80, John Feder ’80, and Ross Weiner ’80.

After Magill appeared before Congress on December 5, 2023, Fred Rubin ’80 provided a video of a portion of Magill’s testimony that members of the Committee called unacceptable. David Berkman then sent a more extensive video of the proceedings that included now former Harvard President Claudine Gay’s testimony that was also deemed unacceptable to members of the Congressional Committee. Harvey Mackler ‘72 sent an excerpt from the Jewish Press. Bruce Robertson ’82 indicated the situation was “all so sad.” Ken Wyman ’81 found it “painful” and said, that for many of us who felt that going to Penn was a source of pride, that it is “a major loss for all of us.” Eric Morgenstern ’81 related that he was “embarrassed and ashamed of my alma mater.”

John Joseph informed us that he had sent a letter to the Penn administration expressing his “severe distress and outrage.” Adam Amsterdam ’79, also in distress of Penn’s lack of response to antisemitism on campus, said the “enduring benefit I derived from my years at Penn is all of you.” Marc Rothman ’82 and Michael Feuerman ’87 sent messages of concurrence.

Following the lead of other donors to Penn, Ross Stevens ’88 withdrew a donation to Penn worth $100,000,000. David Konstandt ’88 applauded brother Stevens. Supportive emails were sent in by Bruce Wolfson ’71, Tom Brodie ’81, Paul Zaentz ’69, and Samuel Weinstein ’81. The question was raised if Ross Stevens was following the Beta Pi email exchange. The question was answered when Ross Stevens replied, “I’m on the chain, gentlemen. Feels great to get support from my brothers.”

Eric Morgenstern then provided a copy of a letter that had been sent to Penn by the CEOs of Holocaust Museums in Illinois and Los Angeles. If Magill had no idea what she did wrong, this letter explained, “You as a University President, with a global stage, including through your recent Congressional testimony, had a pivotal moment, one that cried out for moral leadership and strength. Instead of speaking to our common humanity, decency, and what is not only good but right, when asked a very simple, straightforward question, you waffled, invoked context, and let demons win this round. That is the opposite of meeting the moment and the opposite of the leadership we expect of a University of Pennsylvania president.” The letter drew approval from Gary Survis ’83.

By this time, Magill had resigned but is allowed to remain on campus. Bruce Wolfson mentioned that there is no quick solution to restoring the reputation of the University of Pennsylvania, a sentiment echoed by Bora Sila ’80 and Fred Rubin ’80. They believe that antisemitism is entrenched at the University. Robert Stavis ’81, a member of the Penn Board of Trustees, replied, “Now the hard work begins.”  On December 10, 2023, one day after Magill resigned her position, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Scott L. Bok, resigned.

On December 12, 2023, there was a formal announcement by the Penn administration that J. Larry Jameson has been installed as the interim Penn president. The announcement does not address whether he will be “sitting on his ass” waiting for a permanent replacement for Magill to be named or if he will make actual attempts to remove the antisemitic elements from campus.

The January/February issue of The Penn Gazette featured a statement by Interim President Jameson setting forth his credentials that qualify him for the position. The Gazette also had an additional puff-piece detailing Jameson’s qualifications. Sadly, neither article offered any explanation as to why the Penn administration allowed antisemitism and the call for the genocide of Israel and Jews to fester and grow on Penn’s campus. Neither does it address what actual steps, if any, will be taken to remove the antisemitic element from campus.