Hours after student groups at Harvard published a letter stating that its signers “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence” in response to the Israel-Hamas war, a debate emerged on the university’s campus over the limits of freedom of expression. As tensions rose and internet users began to leak the personal information of the letter’s signatories, a video billboard truck appeared on campus to pour further fuel on the fire.
Paid for by the conservative group Accuracy in Media, the truck drove around Harvard’s campus broadcasting the names and faces of students who signed the letter, branding them as “Harvard’s Leading Antisemites.” Since then, similar trucks have been spotted at Columbia, Penn and, most recently, Yale.
Given these developments and the publicity of the Nov. 8 University Hall sit-in that led to the arrest of 20 Jewish students on campus, it may only be a matter of time before a truck appears on College Hill and begins doxxing Brown students. In light of this, I urge the Brown administration to prepare to offer adequate protection to any student affected by doxxing, and for the student body to stand by the principle of respectful discourse.
Barring any discussion of the merits of statements issued by doxxed students, I hope we are united in condemning doxxing as a threat to free expression. Exposing the personal information of pro-Palestinian students in an attempt to intimidate them is a direct affront to open discourse. Though dissent and disagreement are fundamental aspects of democracy and debate, the provocative rhetoric employed by the truck’s organizers only stokes tension and encourages the propagation of misinformed conclusions about the students.
The trucks are also dangerous. Penn students who spoke at a pro-Palestine rally had already reported significant numbers of online threats around the time the doxxing truck arrived in University City. These concerns have only been amplified since the truck’s arrival, with similar worries raised by Harvard and Columbia students; even families of affected students have been contacted. Former Harvard president Larry Summers, a staunch critic of the Harvard open letter, later released a statement criticizing the doxxing for vilifying students. Despite these frightening outcomes, testimony provided by students at Penn and Columbia expressed disappointment at what they viewed as a lackluster initial response by administrators to the threats.
Brown must not repeat this same mistake. While the doxxing trucks are difficult to remove and technically legal, as they stick strictly to public roads, there are steps the Brown administration can take to protect its students. Improved safety measures — such as heightening security around residential halls — staying vigilant for signs the truck could be coming and providing legal support to affected students should all be considered. Given the additional threats made against pro-Israel supporters, including the assault of an Israeli student at Columbia, these measures will improve safety for all students affected by the conflict.
Beyond the administration, we have a collective duty as Brown students to remain faithful to constructive dialogue. While tensions remain high on campus, productive discourse appears to have increased over the past few weeks, with UCS forums and a series of public lectures and seminars about the ongoing violence in Gaza hosted across College Hill. We cannot allow a radical actor to disrupt the progress we have made and widen the rift in the Brown community.
The truck’s inflammatory rhetoric must not be taken at face value, and most importantly, those featured on it must not become targets for harassment by other students. If the doxxing truck is successful in further dividing the Brown community, intimidation will have defeated reason and compassion. That must not happen.
We have little control over the truck if it materializes at College Hill, but we must not let it catch us off guard — nor allow it to compromise our values.
Lucas Guan ’27 can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send responses to this opinion to email@example.com and other op-eds to firstname.lastname@example.org.