Harvard business group spikes event with ICE contractor after student outcry
- Palantir Technologies is a major technology company that maintains billions of dollars of contracts, some of which are with U.S. government agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
- Students at Harvard University and Rice University are actively denying support from the data-giant because of its work with law enforcement.
Harvard’s Undergraduate BGLTQ Business Society (HUBBS) recently canceled a sponsorship from Palantir Technologies because its products are used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
HUBBS’ mission statement explains that the group wants to increase the amount of “BGLTQ [bixexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, queer]-identified individuals” in the business world. Palantir Technologies offered to assist HUBBS in this mission by sponsoring an ethical decision-making exercise the group planned to hold on Oct. 10, as reported by The Harvard Crimson.
Just one day after the sponsorship was announced, however, HUBBS canceled the entire event after realizing that Plantair’s technologies have been utilized by ICE.
“When a member brought up Palantir’s relationship with ICE, we had initially thought we could allow them to come to campus and then donate the proceeds to an undocumented charity, but we recognize now that bringing Palantir to campus is harmful no matter where proceeds go and that it is unfair to students and antithetical to the diverse communities at Harvard,” HUBBS wrote in an email to its members, according to the Crimson.
Later, HUBBS said that it “actually cancelled the event, and HUBBS will no longer be hosting it or working with Palantir as a sponsor until their work with ICE changes. We sincerely apologize to anyone who was hurt by the prospect of this event, and we hope our actions remedied the situation.”
HUBBS did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment.
Similar outrage against Palantir also occurred at Rice University over a similar Palantir-sponsored networking mixer also set to occur on Thursday, reported the The Rice Thresher.
More than 150 Rice community members signed a petition urging the school’s computer science program to scrap the company as a partner at the event.
Speaking on the matter of Rice students going to work for Palantir, Luay Nakhleh, chair of the Rice computer science department, said that she thinks students “will make the right choices, each according to his or her core values and, hopefully, using the reasoning we teach them,” reported the Thresher.
Not all students are on board with the petition, either.
“I don’t in any way condone or support Palantir’s work with ICE,” Pranay Mittal said, according to the publication. “But if Rice students will start protesting companies that do some highly unethical things and some ethical things, why don’t we protest Facebook, BP, Chevron, etc.?...Trying to prevent [Palantir] from visiting doesn’t respect people who are interested in Palantir for catching child molesters or preventing credit card theft.”
In addition to doing business with ICE, Palantir is known for working with a myriad of other government agencies, providing a variety of security-oriented software products. It recently landed an $800 million contract with the U.S. Army and developed behavior analysis technology that reportedly helped U.S. forces locate and kill Osama Bin Laden.
Palantir is not the only organization to have faced pressure at the hands of left-wing activists. Johns Hopkins University announced in September that it was ending a contract it held with ICE to provide federal immigration agents with medical training, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @KyleHooten2