Campus Free Speech

Activist Students Demand The Harvard Crimson Apologize for Asking ICE to Comment

"Getting both sides isn't always what is fair."


Harvard University students have started a petition denouncing the campus newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, and calling on its staff to apologize.

What did the Crimson do wrong? Absolutely nothing.

Last month, campus-affiliated protesters held an event calling for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Crimson covered the rally, and interviewed some of its leaders. In keeping with general journalistic practice, the paper also reached out to ICE itself, seeking comment. None was given.

This action—which, again, is standard practice for journalists—has apparently infuriated the activists.

"In this political climate, a request for comment is virtually the same as tipping [ICE] off, regardless of how they are contacted," wrote the activist group's leaders in their petition, which now has more than 650 signatories. "We strongly condemn their decision to uphold a policy that blatantly endangers undocumented students on our campus."

The petition demands that the Crimson "apologize for the harm they inflicted on the undocumented community," "critically engage with and change their policies that require calling ICE for comment," and "declare their commitment to protecting undocumented students on campus."

The Crimson is standing by its coverage, and published a subsequent article in which several experts on journalism ethics were quoted in support of the paper's actions:

Society of Professional Journalists President Patricia Gallagher Newberry said it is "wholly appropriate" that The Crimson contacted ICE to respond to criticisms of the agency.

"You're not calling ICE to call out an individual person who might be in our country without the documentation required by ICE. You're simply asking for it to respond in a holistic way to the Abolish ICE Movement," Gallagher said.

Gallagher said she is "sympathetic" to Act on a Dream's concern regarding The Crimson's coverage, but does not see in this particular case how an individual person could be harmed by a request for a "general comment."

Diana Mitsu Klos, director of engagement at the Student Press Law Center, said it was The Crimson's "journalistic duty" to contact ICE because of the agency's central role in the protest.

I'd be perfectly happy if the government defunded ICE immediately. But merely asking the agency's communications staff to comment on a pertinent issue does not put any single person's immigration status in jeopardy. Here we apparently have another example of student activists' ill-defined safety concerns being cited as a reason to abandon an important practice.

I reached out to the activist group, Act on a Dream, for comment, and will update this post if I hear back.

Feuds between activist students and journalists who wish to cover their events are a major theme of my book, Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump. Order it here.

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  1. In keeping with general journalistic practice, the paper also reached out to ICE itself, seeking comment.

    To which ICE responded “If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it”

    1. Word to your undocumented mother.

      1. You guys joke, but the whole song is a metaphor for the problem of illegal immigration. For example, the line “deadly when I play a dope melody” refers to the flow of deadly illegal drugs across the border and the line “anything less than the best is a felony” refers to how Mexico is not sending their best people.
        ““Did you stop?” No, I just drove by, Kept on pursuing to the next stop” refers to how we need to extend the ability of Border Patrol to stop vehicles anywhere in the country, not just within 100 miles of the border. Well, you get the point.

        1. Aaaaaaaand along comes eunuch to ruin the fun by trying way too hard

    2. this was very funny.

    3. I call foul. “Getting both sides isn’t always what is fair” is the tagline, but this quote does not appear in the article. Did you just make that line up, Robby?

      1. Sorry, this got put in the wrong place.

  2. I reached out to the activist group, Act on a Dream, for comment, and will update this post if I hear back.

    Talk about acting on a dream…

  3. Apropos of nothing whatsoever – I was over at my nephew’s this weekend where he was doing an end-of-summer clean-out-the-freezer cookout and was smoking some turkey legs so naturally somebody had to say “as God is my witness I thought turkeys could fly” and we had to explain to the younger ones why that was the goddamn funniest bit ever in the history of network television. But it made me wonder, would you be able to do that same bit today or would the PETA scolds shut you down because there’s nothing a bit funny in making jokes about throwing turkeys out of a helicopter?

    1. I’m sure there’s someone out there who identifies as a turkey.

    2. And wild turkeys CAN fly.

      1. Yeah, they are excellent flyers. They roost in trees.

        1. I don’t know if I’d say “excellent”, but they can and do fly.

      2. Wild Turkey made me fly.

        1. Wild Turkey and Red Bull gives me wings. So I can play tennis.

    3. >>the goddamn funniest bit ever in the history of network television


    4. I quote this often and nobody has a clue what it is anymore. And Les’ on-the-scene reporting is gold.

      1. “There’s something emerging from the helicopter”

  4. I’d be perfectly happy if the government defunded ICE immediately.

    So we would no longer have any immigration control at all. And we would also have no customs control over the borders.

    But reason isn’t open border fanatics or anything. In fairness, I doubt Robby understands the issue or knows much beyond the talking point. So there is that.

    1. Get on the right side of history, John. Don’t you read Nick Gillespie? If you did you’d know more Americans than ever agree with the statement “Immigration is a good thing.” That proves the Koch / Reason open borders agenda has gone mainstream.

      1. I agree that overall “immigration is a good thing” in that it grows the economy so the politicians’ promises to pay Social Security and Medicare will be kept longer. But I disagree when that immigration brings welfare seekers looking for US citizens to provide for them, criminals looking for richer victims, contagious diseases, and people who disagree with the principles of individual freedom on which the country was founded.

        As a libertarian, I’m not for open borders until immoral government welfare is eliminated, and then not for criminals or people with communicable diseases. Otherwise, advocating for open borders, is forcing taxpayers to support welfare seekers – which is bringing harm to taxpayers and is as libertarian as government welfare – i.e. it isn’t a libertarian position. It’s an anti-Trump position.

    2. I believe they called the useful idiots

    3. Yeah, I don’t think he thought that one through. I’m pretty sure even among non-anarchist Reason writers, no one is advocating for no border controls or customs whatsoever.
      I don’t think ICE really improved over the former situation of INS + CBP, but that’s another discussion.

  5. “I’d be perfectly happy if the government defunded ICE immediately.”

    Well said, Robby.

    This is why I love Reason. It’s not just because Shikha Dalmia is the world’s most eloquent voice for billionaire-funded open borders advocacy, although she clearly is.
    But it goes deeper than that. It’s like Charles Koch explicitly demands that every single writer is 100% behind the push for unlimited, unrestricted immigration.


    1. You are such a weirdo. ICE is not compatible with libertarian principles. It’s that simple.

      1. Ummmmm, that’s exactly the point I’ve been making for like 2 years here. Open borders is the fundamental, non-negotiable principle of Koch / Reason libertarianism — which is the only true form of libertarianism.

        1. What’s your favorite passage from Rothbard in support of the free movement of people across borders?

          1. “Let my people go!” ??

      2. Just stop. Your interpretation of libertarianism is the fucktard version that aligns with the naivety of “it will work this time” communists. Your version only works if everyone agrees with exactly your vision. It is idiotic.

        1. I agree. Open borders isn’t libertarian. Open borders advocates promote:
          a) people with communicable diseases to come here and infect us
          b) criminals with a long rap sheets to come here for richer victims and to avoid prosecution for crimes they committed in their country
          c) people to come here and get taxpayers to support them via government mandated welfare
          d) terrorists to come here and attack US citizens instead of fighting US soldiers.

          What’s to stop a foreign government from sending over a nuclear bomb and driving it over the border without border controls?

          All 4 categories can harm me, and the government’s job (from a libertarian perspective) is to protect me from others who’d harm me.

          There’s too many people who’ve become anti-Trump, more than pro-freedom writing in Reason. TDS seems to have infected the staff.

    2. “It’s not just because Shikha Dalmia is the world’s most eloquent voice for billionaire-funded open borders advocacy, although she clearly is.”


  6. Struggle sessions incoming.

  7. Students these days cheer on the notion that the press should be mouthpieces for ideological movements. They just also insist that there are only a few narrow ideological movements that deserve to exist. You know, just like good little revolutionaries.

    Also, for what it’s worth, this has been the opinion of the press for just about the entire run of their existence. It’s nothing new, it’s just amusing how open they are about it.

    1. it is hard to come up with two more loathsome sides who deserve each other more than journalists and woke Harvard students.

    2. Good point (and on topic, though Robbie stirred up a lot of people with his desire to abolish ICE).

      I see this more as Liberals/Democrats/Statists desire to only have THEIR political viewpoint reported or mentioned (a case of trying to shrink the Overton window of acceptable discourse). First, they’ll use peer pressure against the press and try to silence people who think differently (kind of like the way the Reason staff all supports open borders and seems to hate Trump, unfortunately, but are there any who’ve spiraled into silence?) then they’ll go for government force to stop competing voices just like in banana republics.

      What’s relevant here? These people are trying to silence voices, control the press, and prohibit speech. The right answer: if they don’t like what the Crimson writes, they can create their own propaganda rag: trying to limit what others say is immoral, and anti-libertarian.

      I can’t agree that all journalists believe the press should be “mouthpieces for ideological movements” but certainly it applies to many of them.

  8. “OK, you’d rather we not cover your protest?”

    “No, we said cover it without seeking comments from the people we’re protesting. It’s only fair.”

    1. Silencing opposition is key to controlling the message.

  9. >>blatantly endangers undocumented students

    does becoming college student not make one documented? is there a swath of students in the shadows of the school?

    1. does becoming college student not make one documented?

      I’m not sure about the document effect but it clearly makes people stupid.

    2. In California the state will pay for illegals to go to college. citizens though have to pay

    3. Hard for me to understand. When I was in college I had to show my fucking selective service card. Yes, we had foreign students, but they had student visas.

      If you’re in Harvard you either have rich parents, which means you have the resources to get a student visa, or have student aid which comes from the Federal government which requires ID and shit.

      Regardless of one’s belief on immigration, no one jumping the border is attending Harvard.

  10. Gallagher said she is “sympathetic” to Act on a Dream’s concern regarding The Crimson’s coverage…


    1. Somebody should have followed up with “What if CNN did it? Are you STILL sympathetic to activists? What if the activists are Trump supporters?”

  11. The rich and entitled want open borders so they can have cheap labor for their gardeners, nannies, dog poop picker uppers, maids and overall slaves. The working people of this country don’t need or want more immigrants to compete for jobs or free medical care for illegals when they can’t afford to pay for their own medical insurance and deductibles. The progressive woke crowd I know live in expensive white neighborhoods where any person of color would be stopped and frisked as a suspicious person. Most of them are hypocrites and self righteous people who say and do woke things so they can pretend that they are better than the deplorables. .

    1. That’s a nice story (though I have no idea what it has to do with the article at hand). But I’m going to give zero credence to any explanation that assumes that different socio-economic subdivisions of a country are monolithic blocks that share one mind on the subject of immigration (or anything else). Go fucking vote for Bernie Sanders, commie.

  12. >>Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump.

    Chapter One: Radicals or Just Fucking Morons?

    1. Chapter one: Reason “editors”

  13. I reached out to the activist group, Act on a Dream, for comment

    Nice going you racist douche.

    1. Remember the famous “I Have An Act” speech?

  14. What the fuck do they want? For the paper to ignore things they don’t like? Whatever you think of ICE, it’s a real government agency that actually exists and does stuff.

    1. There’s mundane reality, and then there’s the Party’s reality.

      Do you understand, or do want a trip to Room 101?

  15. I’d be perfectly happy if the government defunded ICE immediately.

    I’d be perfectly happy if the Koch foundation defunded Reason and Cato. No chance of that happening either.

    1. I’d be perfectly happy if the Koch foundation defunded Reason and Cato.

      Heathens and apostates may be bad, but nothing is worse than a heretic.

    2. I’d be perfectly happy if the government defunded ICE immediately.

      At least get rid of the fruit sushi first.

  16. “Students demand”


    That’s all you have to do.

  17. In keeping with general journalistic practice – – – –

    What is the general journalistic practice regarding calling a bunch of racist bullies “activists”?

    1. NYT style book says : yes!!

  18. I call foul. The tagline, “Getting both sides isn’t always what is fair” doesn’t appear in the actual article. Did Soave just make that line up?

    1. It’s in the linked Crimson article on the controversy:

      “Marion Davis, director of communications for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said she understands the perspectives of both The Crimson and Act on a Dream.

      “”I know the Crimson acted on a desire for fairness, but I have learned [through] experience that 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,” Davis wrote.”

      1. Given that most of the students at Harvard are sucking at the teat of government, perhaps they should listen to the megaphone of government.

  19. Although the existence of ICE itself is up to debate, a newspaper asking for comment is needed for a somewhat fair article. The students act like they would prefer The National Enquirer as the campus paper. Besides needing their diapers changed.

    1. The National Enquirer broke the John Edwards scandal when he was a Democratic candidate for President, and I’m not sure all of these activists would approve of that sort of thing.

  20. “I’d be perfectly happy if the government defunded ICE immediately. ”

    Is this a special treatment view ?
    Why not abolish coercive monopolies – like the state – that Robby Soave supports.

  21. When was the request for comment from ICE made? During the demonstration, or after it ended? Asking them about the demo while it was in progress could indeed have endangered some of the participants. Asking them once it was over would fulfill the requirements of fair journalism without taking that risk. Although it’s pretty obvious people at ICE are not going to agree with calls for its abolition.

    1. Asking them about the demo while it was in progress could indeed have endangered some of the participants.
      If students are trooping around, holding up signs, megaphoning long speeches, shouting slogans, and calling ICE nasty names, I don’t see how phoning ICE and asking someone for a comment would reveal any additional information about participants.
      After all, given the rate at which protest organizations have been infiltrated by the alphabet agencies, ICE probably knew the details of the demonstration before the student paper did.

  22. Even the NYT knows to call the other side to get a quote or two.

    1. If the article is about “Senator Schmoe described as ‘fascist,'” then having a paragraph down in there saying “Senator Schmoe denied the charge, calling it ‘baseless,'” doesn’t really distract from the article’s main thrust, which is that now poor Schmoe is a fascist and what would you expect from him except a denial of such an incriminating fact?

  23. Where has this student appetite for propaganda come from?

    They blatantly demand biased media reporting to push only their cause forward.

    It all began when journalists abdicated their responsibility to impartial reporting and officially became agents of partisan propaganda.

    You reap what you sow.

  24. There were whiny student activists in my day as well. Way back when we commuted to college on the backs of dinosaurs. Uphill in the snow. both ways.

    But the difference then is that we didn’t cater to the whiners and put them up on pedestals to be worshiped. The idea that college administrators and student newspapers and the public at large would instantly cater to their irrational whims would have been considered outlandish science fiction. Today however we do serve their whims.

    A sizable number of college students are spoiled adult children. I’m sorry, but there’s no other way to put it. Adult children.

    I think we are nearing the end of our civilization. And that scares me.

  25. “Activist Students Demand The Harvard Crimson Apologize for Asking ICE to Comment.”

    Yeah, how dare The Crimson act responsibly and get TWO sides of the story!
    You can’t run a propaganda site with TWO sides of the story.
    What a bunch of morons.

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