08:26 GMT31 May 2020
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    In the latest in a string of hoaxes designed to stoke fear on college campuses, two minority student groups are apologizing after handing out fake deportation notices on the Harvard University campus in Massachusetts.

    The students had been handing out mock notices from a fictitious “Harvard Special Investigations Unit” warning students that a resident of their dorm “has been detained indefinitely.”

    Each placard began, in big, bold letters, by announcing that it was an “official notice.”

    “We regret to inform you that a resident of this dorm has been detained indefinitely due to suspicious actions, suspected violent inclinations, or suspicion of being a deportable alien (i.e. questionable residency status),” the notice read. “This is a matter of special investigation under the strict jurisdiction of the Harvard Corporation and ensures the safety of all students. You will not be able to contact the student at any time during their indefinite detention.”

    It was not until a student turned the notice over that its intentions were made clear.

    “This is not a real notice,” the back admitted. “However, we hope that the unsettling nature of this notice allows Harvard community members to reflect on the reality of people who face these kinds of unwarranted disruptions of life in unexplained suspicious circumstances before a state power that can hold ‘suspects’ indefinitely.”

    The notices were posted by Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee and co-signed by the Harvard Concilio Latino, the Harvard Islamic Society, and the Harvard Black Students Association.

    Following outrage by students who had been alarmed by the notices, the Palestine Solidarity Committee and Concilio Latino issued apologies. The other groups involved have remained unapologetic.

    In an emailed statement by the Palestine Solidarity Committee, obtained by the Harvard Crimson, Co-President Fatima M. Bishtawi wrote that the group “would like to unequivocally apologize for any trauma and pain provoked by the seriousness of this notice.”

    There have been many similar cases since the election of Donald Trump as US president on November 8.

    At liberal arts school Williams College in Massachusetts, two students faced disciplinary action over a KKK hoax that they claimed was in protest of the election results.

    The students involved were not publicly named, but gained viral attention after pouring a red wood stain, meant to look like blood, down the stairwell of a school building and writing “AMKKK KILL” on a wall with the substance.

    The FBI as well as the Massachusetts State Police were brought in to investigate the vandalism as a potential hate crime, but ultimately it was determined that two students had done it as an act of protest.

    “Their actions did much more than damage property,” Williams College President Adam Falk said in a statement after the students confessed. “They harmed our entire community and caused considerable fear, among students in particular. We are deeply distressed that anyone in our community would feel compelled to express themselves in such a destructive and harmful way."


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    Concilio Latino, Palestine Solidarity Committee, Harvard, Massachusetts, Boston, Cambridge
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