Harvard immigration activists blast student newspaper reporters for requesting comment from ICE

Harvard immigration activists blast student newspaper reporters for requesting comment from ICE on their demands to ‘abolish’ the agency

  • More than 670 signed a petition protesting the Harvard Crimson student paper
  • They are furious the newspaper contacted ICE for a response to criticism
  • Activists insist the journalistic duty ‘endangers undocumented students’
  • Crimson editors stand by their decision and vow to uphold their ethics

Pro-immigration activists at Harvard have attacked student journalists for making a routine inquiry requesting comment from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In a petition signed by more than 670 people, the activists claimed that the Harvard Crimson ‘blatantly endangers undocumented students’ by giving ICE the opportunity to respond to criticism.

The imbroglio stems from a September 13 Crimson article about an ‘Abolish ICE’ rally held by student group Act on a Dream, in which the newspaper reported that ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a strongly worded statement, Crimson editors Kristine E. Guillaume and Angela N. Fu stood by their decision, writing: ‘every party named in a story has a right to comment or contest criticism leveled against them.’

Protesters call to abolish ICE at a rally in Los Angeles in July. A similar protest at Harvard last month led to backlash against student reporters who contacted ICE for comment

‘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,’ they wrote. 

At the heart of the immigration activists’ criticism is the claim that contacting ICE for a response is tantamount to informing on students who are present in the country illegally.

‘In this political climate, a request for comment is virtually the same as tipping them off, regardless of how they are contacted,’ the petition read. 

The petition issued a list of ‘demands’ including that the Crimson staff apologize and pledge not to contact ICE in the future.

The Crimson editors wrote that they did not provide ICE with names or immigration statuses of any protesters, and contacted the agency only after the protest concluded, as is the newspaper’s routine policy.

A spokesman for ICE, Bryan Cox, said claims that the agency targets protesters for arrest are false and needlessly spread fear.

‘Should the Harvard community wish to have a fact-based discussion as to what ICE does and does not do we would be happy to take part in that conversation,’ he said.

Harvard Crimson President Kristine E. Guillaume

Harvard Crimson Managing Editor Kristine E. Guillaume

In a strongly worded statement, Crimson editors Kristine E. Guillaume (left) and Angela N. Fu (right) stood by their decision to contact ICE for an opportunity to comment

It is the latest example of heightened political sensitivity on college campuses that many say reveals an intolerance for different – often conservative – points of view. 

In one case, at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, the student government moved to strip the campus newspaper of funding in 2015 after some students objected to an opinion piece published critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

At Middlebury College in Vermont in 2017, hundreds of students protested a lecture by Charles Murray, a writer who critics say uses pseudoscience to link intelligence and race, forcing the college to move his talk to an undisclosed location from which it was live-streamed.

Some political demonstrations have turned violent, including a 2017 riot at the University of California, Berkeley, over an appearance planned by controversial conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos that was canceled.

Student journalists and their advisers across the country regularly report efforts by students and school administrators to influence their coverage decisions, according to Chris Evans, president of the College Media Association. But he said it is rare to see efforts as blatant as those at Harvard.

‘There’s absolutely nothing wrong with protesting,’ Evans said. ‘The thing that can’t happen is that the student newspaper backs down. Let people debate whether certain voices should be heard. But it’s not the journalist’s job, with some exceptions, to decide what can and cannot be heard.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk