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Doxxed Harvard Students Decry ‘Heinous and Aggressive’ Online Harassment, Call for Greater Support from University

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{shortcode-71496f06dbcf4e7fd51a7303a24604fb32b6a0a2}n the two months since the release of a controversial Harvard student group statement the day of the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, dozens of members of co-signing groups have experienced doxxing attacks, rescinded job offers, and safety concerns.

The statement, which was penned by the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and originally co-signed by more than 30 other groups, held Israel “entirely responsible” for the violence. Even as groups have withdrawn their endorsements, students said doxxing attacks have persisted — and escalated.

Several Cambridge residents told The Crimson that last month they received unsigned mailers with no return address that doxxed 26 students allegedly affiliated with nine of the co-signing organizations. The mailers were postmarked from Salt Lake City.

At least six of the nine groups — which were described by the letter as “organizations who excused the worst slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust” — had withdrawn their endorsements in October.

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Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton wrote in a statement last week that the University and the Harvard University Police Department are aware of the letters and are “continuing to monitor the matter.”

The mailed letters follow a pattern of doxxing campaigns, from a truck that displayed the names and faces of students whose groups signed the statement to personalized website domains that condemned individual students.

Over the past two months, The Crimson interviewed seven students in groups that signed onto the controversial statement who described facing hateful, pervasive, and aggressive doxxing. Despite efforts by the University to support these students, all seven said they have felt a lack of institutional support and have turned to guidance from other students.

These students were granted anonymity for this article due to ongoing safety concerns.

In a video message published Oct. 12, University President Claudine Gay said Harvard “rejects the harassment or intimidation of individuals based on their beliefs.”

“Our University rejects hate — hate of Jews, hate of Muslims, hate of any group of people based on their faith, their national origin, or any aspect of their identity,” Gay said. “Our University rejects the harassment or intimidation of individuals based on their beliefs.”

‘Terrifying’

Beginning on Oct. 7 — the date of the attack on Israel and the PSC statement — some students affiliated with organizations that co-signed the statement said they began receiving death threats in their inboxes and across social media platforms.

Students found their photos and personal information — including full names, class years, extracurricular activities, past employment, and hometowns — plastered on websites and social media accounts characterizing them as “terrorist sympathizers” and antisemites.

The doxxing attacks came in the wake of national backlash — including from prominent alumni, federal lawmakers, and professors — that condemned the PSC statement and decried its signatories.

An Arab Muslim undergraduate who has experienced severe doxxing described the attacks as “incredibly scary” and “terrifying,” especially as Harvard attracted global attention in the days following the statement.

Another doxxed undergraduate said her family was tracked down and contacted, with their full names and professions shared online.

In mid-October, a billboard truck displaying the names and faces of students under the heading “Harvard’s Leading Antisemites” arrived in Harvard Square, circling campus across several days. It also circled New Haven for this year’s Harvard-Yale football game on Nov. 19.

The truck — as well as several website domains of students’ full names — was funded by conservative media advocacy group Accuracy in Media, which is headed by Adam Guillette.

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Guillette wrote in an Oct. 25 post on X that the truck would be visiting students at their homes so “they can explain to their neighbors why they don’t like the Jews.”

One student said being forced to call his family to warn them that the truck could arrive outside their house made the week one of the worst in his life.

In posts to X, Guillette wrote that he does not believe AIM’s work qualifies as doxxing because student information was taken from social media sites like LinkedIn and articles in The Crimson and other outlets.

Almost all of the students interviewed for this article said they appeared on the truck, which they said created physical safety concerns and an atmosphere of “emotional unsafety.”

“It all felt very scary, very heavy, and very stressful and just so worrying,” said one doxxed member of the PSC.

Some students — regardless of whether or not they hold a leadership position in one of the signatory groups or saw the controversial statement — have been doxxed “simply based on affinity group affiliation,” according to a doxxed undergraduate student.

“This doxxing is really targeting the most marginalized students with vulnerable immigration status, racial background, religious background,” the student said.

A number of the student groups that initially signed the PSC statement took part in an informal agreement to circulate and sign each others’ statements in a show of solidarity across affinity groups, according to the Arab Muslim undergraduate.

They said that organizations have independent processes for signing onto statements that often don’t require unanimous agreement among members.

Once the backlash and doxxing attacks ensued following the statement, many student organizations were “left with no choice but to retract” in order to protect members’ safety, they said. Ultimately, at least 10 groups pulled their support from the initial statement.

When the doxxing began, a student organization leader said members of their club did their best to limit their online presences by archiving social media posts, changing the visibility of their accounts, hibernating LinkedIn profiles, and removing associations with particular organizations.

But lists of the co-signing groups and students affiliated with those organizations continue to circulate. Several students found that their personal information was still accessible via internet archive sites.

‘Just Inhumane to Me’

Several students said they remain concerned about the impact the doxxing may have on their professional futures and called for greater support from the University and the Mignone Center for Career Success.

Multiple CEOs — most prominently billionaire hedge fund manager Bill A. Ackman ’88 — have taken to social media to call for students to be publicly named to face disciplinary action and professional consequences. Some, like Ackman, said they would refuse to hire students whose organizations signed onto the joint statement.

One doxxed graduate student said that a company rescinded their employment offer because their investigation concluded they were engaged in activities that were “widely interpreted as supporting terrorism.”

Another doxxed international undergraduate said he has been forced to rethink the feasibility of pursuing a career in the United States.

The Mignone Center for Career Success has intervened on behalf of students with employers and offered to write letters and contact employers, according to College spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo.

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One doxxed undergraduate student said she is unsure of how the doxxing will affect her professionally. She said despite current resources available, it was difficult to know what future resources will be available for students who aren’t currently searching for fellowships and jobs.

Four of the interviewed students said they were concerned about the doxxing of undocumented and international students, who could face heightened risk of deportation or travel limitations.

One student pointed to the doxxing of members of Act on a Dream — a group supporting undocumented students on campus — that withdrew support for the statement on Oct. 10, citing “miscommunication and a lack of due diligence in sharing the statement with the entirety of the board.”

“You’re gonna doxx the undocumented students group — that’s just inhumane to me,” the student said.

The Office of International Education has published resources — such as the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic and the Harvard Alumni Association — to connect students with support, per Palumbo.

‘Too Little, Too Late’

Immediately following the swift backlash to the statement in October, administrators with the College, the Dean of Students Office, and undergraduate residences directly reached out to impacted students and have continued to stay in contact, according to Palumbo.

Harvard has also increased police presence around campus, provided resources on legal aid, and hosted sessions with Harvard University Information Technology and HUPD officials.

On Oct. 20, HUIT published a document listing information and resources for Harvard affiliates facing online abuse or harassment, along with a new site to report such instances to the school.

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More than two weeks after the initial doxxing attacks, the College announced a temporary task force to support students experiencing doxxing, harassment, and online safety breaches.

The task force — coordinated by Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education Meghan Lockwood and Dudley Community Interim Resident Dean Christopher M. Gilbert — serves as a point of contact to share with students available resources, coordinate services, receive student concerns and suggestions, and communicate with College administrators.

These resources were shared with all residential staff and student organizations, including Harvard Hillel, per Palumbo. Though the task force was originally slated to wind down on Nov. 30, according to a weekly update email to undergraduates on that day, it will remain in operation until Dec. 20.

While students described the task force as “incredibly well-intentioned” and a “really great first step” in centralizing support, they added they believed it was also inefficient and underpublicized.

Administrators offered DeleteMe, an online service that helps remove online personal information, weeks after private information had already circulated across social media, according to one student.

One doxxed undergraduate said they felt that the task force was “too little, too late” and many of the concerns it sought to address were irreversible.

“Now, there’s nothing that can be done,” they said.

Another doxxed student said HUIT services were helpful but limited by social media platforms’ terms of use.

One student said they saw the DSO decision not to publicize the task force in an email to the full student body as an “utter failure to protect students,” adding that they knew students who had been doxxed but did not receive updates on the task force. The Nov. 30 email about the task force extension was sent to all undergraduates.

“It’s all been very much, ‘We’ll give you hugs in private, but we will not say or do anything publicly,’” they said.

A graduate student also criticized the lack of a centralized task force for students across the University who had been doxxed.

The University posted a webpage titled “Resources in Times of Crisis” including an anonymous reporting hotline and the HUIT guidelines around countering online abuse.

Palumbo declined to comment on the specific student criticisms.

‘A Student Hotline’

Students said they have turned to their peers as a support system as a way of “filling in the gaps” left by the administration and quickly relaying information and resources to one another.

Doxxed students have formed a group chat to coordinate and advise each other on the best ways to remove their private information online, according to an undergraduate.

Following conversations with Harvard administrators, students also created a guide containing advice around online privacy settings, interacting with the press, and reporting harassment. The guide also included specific points of contact for international and undocumented students.

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Some students have gathered at study breaks to “create a sense of normalcy” and to “feel like we have a space amongst the hatred we’ve been facing,” one doxxed organizer said.

In the first two weeks of the doxxing attacks, the Arab Muslim student said they felt overwhelmed as one of just a few students finding and distributing resources on doxxing while simultaneously dealing with their own concerns.

They described feeling like “a student hotline” because other doxxed students would call them at all times to ask for advice and next steps, adding that it was “scary and disheartening” to feel that students were expected to be first responders to the doxxing.

Multiple doxxed students said deans, lower-level administrators, and professors have reached out to provide support and offer academic accommodations.

In the email sent to doxxed undergraduates announcing the task force, Dean of Students Thomas Dunne described doxxing as a “repugnant assault on our community.”

One student said it would be “really meaningful” to see this type of language in a statement publicly shared with the entire University. Gay has not used the word “doxxing” in her public statements and addresses, though she has criticized harassment and intimidation broadly.

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‘The Palestine Exception’

Almost all of the doxxed students — many of whom had previously participated in pro-Palestine advocacy — said members of the PSC and other activist groups have long faced safety concerns and privacy threats.

One undergraduate said the doxxing was “not a new threat,” but he has been surprised by the extent to which it has been “heinous and aggressive.”

In spring 2022, members of The Crimson’s Editorial Board were doxxed after the publication of a staff editorial in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which calls for an end to international support for Israel until the country changes its policies toward Palestinians. The Crimson’s Editorial Board operates separately from the News Board.

Several interviewed students described the doxxing attacks as an effort to silence students’ voices.

“The Palestine exception is real — the Palestine exception to free speech,” the student said.

The doxxed graduate student said her first experience with doxxing took place during her senior year of college. The incident, she said, taught her about the risk of pro-Palestine advocacy.

“Our speech is not received kindly by people who do not look kindly on our existence,” she said. “This is part of a much broader practice to suppress speech that is sympathetic to Palestine and speech that is truthful on Palestine.”

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Still, some PSC organizers said the heightened backlash following the statement was unexpected because past statements have not received as much widespread attention.

Another student worried that going forward, student groups might be “a lot more skeptical” about showing support for one another due to the doxxing attacks and University response.

“I worry how students will feel that their ability to show solidarity for each other is curtailed and if that support network still exists,” the student said.

“That’s really scary, but also heartbreaking,” they added.

—Staff writer Michelle N. Amponsah contributed reporting to this article.

—Staff writer Joyce E. Kim can be reached at joyce.kim@thecrimson.com

—Staff writer Asher J. Montgomery can be reached at asher.montgomery@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @asherjmont or on Threads @asher_montgomery.

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