Upset about the looming eviction of residents in a nearby affordable housing complex, protesters descended on Monday’s convocation at the University of Pennsylvania, interrupting President Liz Magill and accusing Penn of gentrifying neighborhoods near campus—or “Penntrification,” as they called it.
Despite being targeted, Penn does not own the nearby University City Townhomes complex at the heart of the protest, which The Philadelphia Inquirer reported largely houses Black and Hispanic families who will likely be forced to move out in October. While Penn does not own the housing facility and has no plans to purchase the site, the newspaper reported that activists believe the university should step in given how its presence has contributed to gentrification.
University City Townhomes is owned by IBID Associates, which is not affiliated with Penn. IBID Associates is attempting to sell the complex, which reportedly houses around 70 families.
The newspaper reported that protesters held signs reading “Penn is displacing Black families” and “Liz Magill, stop the eviction,” among other slogans. Students were among the protesters, with some telling the Inquirer that Penn should invest its resources in affordable housing.
A Penn spokesperson told the Inquirer it was ironic that the protest disrupted Magill’s speech, which was about “productive disagreement and the value of learning across differences.”