Harvard Crimson Censured after Asking ICE to Comment for Protest Article

ICE agents during an enforcement operation in March 2018. (File photo: Keith Gardner/ICE)

More than 650 people have signed a petition condemning the Harvard Crimson’s coverage of an on-campus protest demanding the abolition of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Crimson reached out to ICE for a comment on a September 13 story about the protest which was led by student-run immigration advocacy group, “Act on a Dream” in cooperation with sympathetic campus groups.

A month after the article was published, Act on a Dream started a petition, cosigned by ten other campus organizations, objecting to the Crimson’s decision to reach out to ICE for comment on the grounds that doing so might endanger the students who were quoted criticizing the agency.

“In this political climate, a request for comment is virtually the same as tipping [ICE] off, regardless of how they are contacted,” the petition reads. “The Crimson, as a student-run publication, has a responsibility to prioritize the safety of the student body they are reporting on — they must reexamine and interrogate policies that place students under threat.”

Crimson President Kristine E. Guillaume stated that the paper did not provide names, immigration statuses, or extended quotes of those involved, and defended the decision to ask ICE for comment as part of “fundamental journalistic values.” The Crimson has also been defended by several journalism organizations which argued the reporters were following standard practices.

Act on a Dream tweeted Saturday calling for individuals and organizations to decline interview requests from the Crimson until the publication changes its policies regarding requests for comment. The Harvard College Democrats tweeted a similar statement.

Marion Davis, director of communications for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, wrote that while she understands the paper’s desire to be objective, “getting both sides isn’t always what is fair, especially when one side has already made its views well known through the megaphones of government.”

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