Harvard groups encourage student paper to ignore journalism ethics in stories involving ICE

Harvard University’s College Democrats student group, a pro-illegal alien organization, and several other parties are demanding that the student paper ignore standard journalism practices and stop reaching out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for comment on related stories.

Act on a Dream, the pro-illegal alien group, is a student group that advocates for the rights of all immigrants on campus, regardless of legal status. The group started the petition after holding a September rally for the abolition of ICE and after The Harvard Crimson, the school newspaper, reached out to ICE for comment about the protest. 

“We are extremely disappointed in the cultural insensitivity displayed by The Crimson’s policy to reach out to ICE, a government agency with a long history of surveilling and retaliating against those who speak out against them,” the petition reads. “In this political climate, a request for comment is virtually the same as tipping them off, regardless of how they are contacted.”

“We strongly condemn their decision to uphold a policy that blatantly endangers undocumented students on our campus,” Act on a Dream continues. “Responsible journalism includes being conscious about the impact caused by their actions as a news organization.” 

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The Harvard College Democrats, along with several other student groups, signed the petition, which demanded the Crimson apologize for “harm” done to illegal aliens at Harvard.

“We’re joining Act on a Dream in their call for The Harvard Crimson to stop calling ICE on their fellow students, and outboard will not agree to interviews with The Crimson until they stop,” the Harvard College Democrats said in a statement released on Twitter. 

But The Harvard Crimson defended its decision to reach out to ICE and said it would do so again. 

“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,” wrote Kristine E. Guillaume and Angela N. Fu, the paper’s president and managing editor. “This ensures the article is as thorough, balanced, and unbiased toward any particular viewpoint as possible.”

“A world where news outlets categorically refuse to contact certain kinds of sources — a world where news outlets let third-party groups dictate the terms of their coverage — is a less informed, less accurate, and ultimately less democratic world.”

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The student journalists also obtained support from professional colleagues.

“You’re not calling ICE to call out an individual person who might be in our country without the documentation required by ICE,” Patricia Gallagher Newberry, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, told the Crimson. "You're simply asking for it to respond in a holistic way to the Abolish ICE movement.”

ICE, the Harvard College Democrats, and the Harvard Republican Club did not respond to Campus Reform in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @mrtrad1999