Harvard University's student newspaper is facing boycott calls after requesting comment from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a September story about a protest on campus.
Student groups have criticized The Harvard Crimson for asking for the ICE comment, saying it endangered undocumented students on campus.
Asking for such a comment would be normal practice at most news organizations.More than 670 people have signed onto a petition condemning the Crimson for their contact to ICE. The petition states that the student newspaper demonstrated “cultural insensitivity” by reaching out to ICE, and that it needs to “prioritize the safety of the student body they are reporting on.”
“In this political climate, a request for comment is virtually the same as tipping them off, regardless of how they are contacted,” the petition states.
The signers of the petition are requesting the newspaper apologize for “the harm they inflicted on the undocumented community,” and that it adjust its policies that require them to contact ICE for comment and “declare their commitment to protecting undocumented students on campus.”
The Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee tweeted in support of boycotting the student newspaper, saying “Protect the undocumented.”
Protect the undocumented. Boycott the Crimson. pic.twitter.com/jTSNsGPr74— Harvard PSC (@HarvardPSC) October 22, 2019
Harvard Crimson President Kristine E. Guillaume in a note to readers on the newspaper’s website defended the decision to contact ICE.
Guillaume said the newspaper did not provide the names or immigration statuses of any protesters and did not inform ICE of the protest until its conclusion. She said ICE did not respond to the request.
“At stake here, we believe, is one of the core tenets that defines America's free and independent press: the right — and prerogative — of reporters to contact any person or organization relevant to a story to seek that entity's comment and view of what transpired,” she said in the note.
The protest was organized by a campus group called Act on Dream.