Drexel University president calls for end to pro-Palestinian encampment on campus

Drexel University’s president is calling for an end to the encampment of pro-Palestine protesters that gathered on the campus Saturday.

In a notice to the Drexel community, President John Fry provided more details about the university's response to the encampment – which formed just hours after 19 protesters were arrested at the nearby University of Pennsylvania.

About 40 to 60 protesters were participating in the encampment on the Korman Quad as of Sunday – without permission or authorization - according to Fry. 

Fry added that a lockdown that went into place went into effect when the encampment formed on Saturday would remain in effect, with access to Drexel buildings and facilities provided only to those with clearance from Drexel Public Safety.

Police on Sunday set up barricades around the encampment area, denying access to any new protesters. Instead, only medical and legal personnel were permitted to enter. 

Law enforcement have described the scene as mostly peaceful, while Fry referenced reports that raised ‘serious concern.’

"While protest encampments such as this one are not legally protected, we had hoped last night that this demonstration would remain peaceful and respectful of others," Fry’s message continued. "Regrettably, that is not the case here. This demonstration already has proved intolerably disruptive to normal University operations and has raised serious concerns about the conduct of some participants, including distressing reports and images of protestors subjecting passersby to antisemitic speech, signs and chants."

Fry insisted those ‘hateful’ and ‘intimidating’ must be condemned, and not tolerated.  He then added that it had become ‘increasingly apparent’ that most of the protesters within the encampment are unaffiliated with Drexel.


Of the 19 protesters arrested at the University of Pennsylvania on Friday, only 6 were students. When police broke up an encampment on that same campus in weeks past, 33 were arrested with a small number having been confirmed to be Penn students. 

Fry says the university has opened a line of communication with the protesters, but insisted the encampment must end. 

"We have opened a line of communication to the protestors and will try to prevail on them to cease and desist from their unauthorized demonstration. To be clear, however, this encampment must end," Fry said. "I want to remind Drexel students who are participating in this protest that they could face disciplinary action for violating our Student Code of Conduct. Encampment participants who are unaffiliated with Drexel are unlawfully trespassing."

The protesters call themselves the Drexel Palestine Coalition and have a long list of demands for the university. 

FOX 29 reached out to the American Jewish Committee for a statement about the encampment. Regional Director Marcia Bronstein’s statement read: 

"AJC believes, that on a campus setting, the free exchange of ideas and reasoned dialogue crucially depends on never resorting to violence, bullying, or the suppression of others’ speech. University leaders must not allow protesters who have dispensed with rules and adopted the tactics of mobs to gain leverage.

Under no circumstances do disruptive behaviors constitute allowable expressions of free speech, and they are not legally protected under free speech laws. This distinction must be made to all members of the campus community, including students, faculty, and staff. 

 To not do so undermines the very core of higher education’s mission to create a space of learning that prioritizes the free expression of ideas that can never descend into violence or the threat of violence and antisemitism.

On some campuses across the US, university leaders believe they can negotiate with the current protesters and have them take down the encampments in exchange for summer breaks. Then they wish for an end to the war and that fall 2024 will be a more quiet and peaceful time on their campus.

This is a gamble that has been taken.  Since the Oct 7tht error attacks, we have seen calls for divestment votes, chanting from the river to the sea, calls for cease fire, questions about the existence of Israel and Zionism and Jews’ right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland, and the end goal is erasure and a Middle East with no Israel.

What is needed on university campuses are leaders who will share clear messages that hatred and violence against Jews cannot become normalized. Leaders who will not negotiate demands of pro Palestine protesters who set up encampments and create campus chaos. Leaders who during the current encampments on campus will not reward extremists, nor the community that supports them or their tactics and actions."