U. Penn President Lands in the Host Seat After Participating in Student Led ‘Die-In’


President Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania is now in the hot seat after participating in a “die-in” last week in response to over 50 students storming in on her holiday party.

The student protesters demanded that the U. Penn president take notice of the issue of police violence that has swept the nation in the wake of the cases of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. President Gutmann initially attempted to address the students and the issue by speaking through the microphone on hand, but her voice was silenced by protesters as they shouted her down in unison.

Seeking a way to show her students that she was not deaf to their pleas for justice or blind to their actions to incite change, the U. Penn president stopped the party to join them in a “die-in”. She opted to use her actions rather than her words to express her views and to show solidarity with student protesters in attendance.

While surrounded by holiday decorations and party goers, President Gutmann lay on the floor next to her students to symbolize the many hours that Michael Brown was left in the street after his death and similar to how Eric Garner lay unresponsive, in need of medical attention.

Many U. Penn campus police were in attendance at the holiday party and quickly became outraged by what they witnessed the university president doing.

The president of the university’s police officers’ union, Eric Rohrback, was so incensed by President Gutmann’s actions that he felt compelled to write The Inquirer to make his feelings known. Rohrback wrote, “I am appalled that the president of this fine university would give in to the pressures of the uninformed mob mentality surrounding the Michael Brown case and participate in a ‘die-in’. It is a slap in the face to every person that wears this uniform and serves this university.”

President Gutmann hasn’t commented on the events at her party yet nor has she been reached for comment, but the U. Penn vice president of public safety, Maureen S. Rush, quickly came to her defense. Rush, a former police officer herself, said “I can assure you that her laying on the ground was not solidarity against police. It was solidarity with students who are expressing their personal opinions. There’s not a doubt in my mind o Amy Gutmann’s loyalty and respect for law enforcement across the board and in particular the Penn police.”

President Gutmann’s participation in the “die-in” comes on the heels of President Eric Barron of Pennsylvania State University coming under fire after he joined in a student led protest just two weeks ago. President Barron stood among a group of students and placed his hands in the air in a gesture that is now recognized as the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protest symbol for Michael Brown.

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