Penn Calls B.S. on Claims It Banned Roger Waters from Campus

The Pink Floyd co-founder says he wasn't allowed on campus due to accusations of antisemitism.

Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters, who claims he was banned from the University of Pennsylvania over accusations of antisemitism, performing earlier this year (Getty Images)

Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters, who claims he was banned from the University of Pennsylvania over accusations of antisemitism, performing earlier this year (Getty Images)

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Penn Calls B.S. on Claims It Banned Pink Floyd Co-Founder Roger Waters from Campus

Roger Waters is very, very good at making music. This is evidenced by such masterworks as The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, two albums he produced as part of Pink Floyd, the British band he co-founded in 1965.

On the other hand, Roger Waters is very, very bad at making friends.

This is evidenced by his notorious estrangement from Pink Floyd, which he left in the ’80s amid legal threats. It’s also evidenced by persisting controversies that surround Waters thanks to some of the imagery and words he’s used in concerts (German police recently investigated him over Nazi-inspired costuming, while others took offense to Waters seeming to equate Anne Frank with a Palestinian journalist killed in the West Bank last year) and statements he’s made elsewhere — statements condemned by many as antisemitic.

Indeed, the U.S. Department of State felt compelled to weigh in on Waters earlier this year, condemning him for “a long track record of using antisemitic tropes” and blasting him for one concert in particular that “contained imagery that is deeply offensive to Jewish people. … ”

Ouch. Not many octogenarian rock-and-rollers raise the ire of the Department of State.

All of this contempt and controversy over Roger Waters boiled over in the past few days at the University of Pennsylvania. This past weekend — notably, the weekend preceding the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur — Penn hosted the Palestine Writes Literature Festival inside its Irvine Auditorium.

The festival was to celebrate Palestinian culture and perspectives and featured a variety of writers and other speakers. And one of those speakers was set to be none other than Roger Waters, who has had no shortage of things to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (You’ve probably figured out by now that he doesn’t exactly come down on Israel’s side of things.)

But then, on Sunday afternoon, came this New York Post headline: “Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters banned from speaking at UPenn after accusations of antisemitism.” The tabloid referred to an Instagram post in which Waters explains that he arrived at Philadelphia International Airport only to find that he wasn’t allowed on campus at Penn. In that same Instagram post, he reads from and mocks a Daily Pennsylvanian article critical of his planned appearance at the school.

Naturally, all of this raises the pressing issue of free speech on campus. If Penn banned Roger Waters from campus, who’s next? And who is making these decisions?

Here’s the thing: Penn insists it didn’t ban Roger Waters from its campus.

According to University of Pennsylvania spokesperson Ron Ozio, organizers of the Palestine Writes Literature Festival told the school time and time again that Waters would be participating virtually. Not in person.

But on Wednesday, with less than 48 hours to go before the kickoff of the event, Ozio says, festival organizers suddenly changed their tune, telling Penn that Waters would attend in person. And Ozio explains that having somebody like Waters attend in person would have required “significant changes to event coordination” along with “additional campus safety and security resources that were unavailable on such short notice.”

Festival organizer Susan Abulhawa disputes Ozio’s account, claiming that she had informed Penn of the change to in-person closer to 72 hours in advance and that she even raised more money to cover the costs of added security, to no avail.

In the end, Waters did attend the event virtually, from his laptop at Philadelphia International Airport. I’m sure it was riveting.

Next up, Waters is off to London for two concerts. This was the scene in London when he performed there earlier this year:

protesters outside a Roger Waters concert in London

Protestors outside a Roger Waters concert in London (Getty Images)

Ed. Note: The above story has been updated with a response from festival organizer Susan Abulhawa, who did not originally respond to a request for comment.

For Those of You Who Care About the Taylor Swift-Travis Kelce Thing…

OMG she went to see him play on Sunday!!!

donna kelce and taylor swift watching Travis Kelce lead the Kansas City Chiefs to victory

Donna Kelce and Taylor Swift watching Travis Kelce lead the Kansas City Chiefs to victory (Getty Images)

That’s Mama Kelce and Taylor Swift in a box at the stadium, where the Chiefs trounced the Bears.

Meanwhile, even normally stoic NFL coach Bill Belichick is getting in on all the Taylor Swift-Travis Kelce fever. On a Monday morning radio show, Belichick had this to say in response to the rumors that Swift and Kelce are dating: “Well, I would say that Travis Kelce has had a lot of big catches in his career. This would be the biggest.”

You know you’ve reached maximum pop culture something-or-other when Bill Belichick is coming with the jokes. Ugh.

Well, I Guess This Is a Good Time to Throw This In Here…

Okay, I kinda had to laugh at that.

And Then There’s This…

On to Things That Actually Matter

The Washington Post has a captivating feature on Gisele Fetterman. A lot has happened since I interviewed her in January.

Stats We Shouldn’t Be Proud Of

The New York Times delves deep into the issue of minors being sentenced to life in prison — and the epicenter for that is right here in Philadelphia, which sent more minors to prison for life without the possibility of parole than any other city in the entire country.

By the Numbers

11: Chickens rescued by the Animal Care and Control Team after a crate of the feathery fowl fell off a truck on the Roosevelt Boulevard on Sunday morning. The agency is looking for people to adopt the chickens. Well, people outside of Philadelphia. Since backyard chickens are illegal in Philly.

48 percent: Increase in Philly-area home prices per square foot compared to those same prices five years ago. New York and Boston have it much, much worse.

4: Number of free rides (of up to $20 each) any Temple student can receive from Uber between now and the end of the year, a promotion that comes in response to concerns over campus safety.

What Are You Doing This Week?

Yes, you’re watching the Eagles beat the Buccaneers tonight. But then what? I highly recommend checking out Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins at the Arden, preceded by cocktails and snacks at Fork now that dreaded Restaurant Week is over. I saw a preview on Saturday, and the musical resonates even more in 2023 than it did when I saw it in years past. Opening night, which is sold out, is this Wednesday. But the Arden has extended the play through October 22nd. So you have plenty of time.

Also, very curious to see Cirque du Soleil’s latest show, which comes to Oaks (it’s near King of Prussia) this week and also continues through October 22nd. Yes, I, too, miss the days when Cirque would set up under the big top at Broad and Washington. But those days are long gone. So out to Oaks it is. Regrettably, there’s no reasonable way to get to Oaks on SEPTA.

If none of that floats your boat, don’t worry: Here’s a guide to lots and lots of other fun things to do this week in and around Philadelphia.

What Are You Eating This Week?

I’ll pass on all things pumpkin and pumpkin-spiced. But for those of you who find this flavor profile desirable, my friends at Foobooz have an entire guide just for you.

And from the Welcome-to-the-Bigs Sports Desk …

The Phils hosted the Mets for the second time on Friday night, and Taijuan Walker walked first batter Brandon Nimmo, who scored on a double by Pete Alonso. Rafael Ortega, Mark Vientos and Nimmo all singled in the fifth: 2-0. But Walker nailed Vientos taking a lead off second, then got a strikeout to shut down the threat.

In the sixth, after Harper got nailed on the kneecap by a Tylor Megill pitch, J.T. Realmuto smacked a three-run homer. Matt Strahm handled the seventh, and in our half, against reliever Phil Bickford, Johan Rojas singled with one out, then stole second and took third on a lousy pickoff attempt. Kyle Schwarber singled him home: 4-2.

For the eighth, Gregory Soto gave up a solo homer to Francisco Lindor, just to keep it interesting. Jeff McNeil then singled, and the Phils brought in Jeff Hoffman to throw one pitch to Pete Alonso, who popped out. Kimbrel for the ninth! With one out and the crowd on its feet, Brett Baty tied it up with a solo homer. Son of a bitch. Brooks Raley pitched the bottom half and stymied the Phils. Free baseball! Seranthony walked Nimmo with Tim Locastro on second, and Francisco Lindor struck out on a killer slider. Jeff McNeil then tipped Seranthony’s second pitch right into his own crotch — yikes! And he walked, to load the bases for Alonso — who struck out. Then, with Turner on second to start our 10th, the Mets walked Harper intentionally, and Bohm singled Trea home for the 5-4 win. Stupendous.

For Saturday’s game, which miraculously wasn’t rained out, Zack Wheeler faced off against José Quintana. The Mets went up two in the second inning on an egregious error by Turner, but a Harper solo homer in our half cut it to 2-1. J.T. reached first on an error by Lindor, and a Castellanos triple evened it up. Bohm had a solo homer in the third to make it 3-2, and a Rojas single, a Schwarber double and a Turner fielder’s choice tacked another on in the fourth, after which Turner and Schwarbs both scored on a Harper single: 6-2.

The Mets made it 6-4 in the seventh on singles by Baty and Vientos and a Nimmo triple, and Nimmo scored on a sac fly. Uh-oh: 6-5. But we got one back in our half off reliever Reed Garrett, on a Bohm double and a Realmuto single. That’s where it stood at the end after fine relief innings from Soto and Alvarado. Another good win!

Sunday’s game got moved from the planned 1:05 afternoon start to 6:05 because of Ophelia, with Cristopher Sánchez vs. José Butto, gloomy skies be damned. Turner gave the Fan Appreciation Day speech, appropriately. After a whole lot of nothin’ through the first three, Harper walked to start our fourth, and a single by Stott got him to third. Stott then stole second easily. He and Harper both came home on a J.T. single, and Castellanos homered to make it 4-0. The Mets got their first hit in the fifth, a single by D.J. Stewart, but nothing out of it. Turner doubled in the fifth and scored on a Harper single. There was another Mets hit in the sixth, and we muffed a double play that left Tim Locastro at second. Ronny Mauricio then whacked a two-run homer: 5-2.

After Butto walked Castellanos in the bottom half, he came out for Anthony Kay. Sánchez stayed in through the seventh, but the rain was starting in earnest. Hey, look who came in for the eighth: the amazing Orion Kerkering! He got his first major-league out, on a grounder! And then his first strikeout! And then his second. Way to go, kiddo! His dad was crying in the stands.

Michael Lorenzen pitched the ninth, and he came through with a ground-out, a strikeout and another ground-out. They call that a sweep! We need one more win to make it to the post-season. Let’s hope it comes at one of the last three home games of the season, against the Pirates, this Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:40 and Thursday at 6:05. Go Phils!

Monday Night Football Alert!

Tonight! Tonight! The Eagles are playing the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football tonight, starting at 7:15. Go Birds!

And in Doop News

The Union took on LAFC at home in a rainy match on Saturday night — a team they’ve never beaten, including in last year’s MLS Cup final. They still haven’t ever beaten them, since the game ended as a 0-0 draw. That’s no way to attract new fans, MLS. On the other hand, the Union did clinch a playoff berth with the draw, so there’s that.

Meantime, in College Football …

On Saturday, Temple was crushed by the 20th-ranked Miami Hurricanes at the Linc, 41-7; Villanova beat the Rhode Island Rams handily, 35-9; and the Penn Quakers defeated Bucknell, 37-21.

All Philly Today sports coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.