Additional reporting by Sara Jin Li
When Molly* first heard that a truck was driving around her campus showing the faces and names of her friends and calling them “Harvard’s Leading Antisemites,” she felt a flood of emotion: fear, disgust, devastation. She watched as her friends appeared, one by one, on a large digital screen on the side of the truck, and she knew it was just a matter of time until her face was there too.
“In a sense, there was almost like a twisted relief when I finally heard that I was on the face of the truck because at least I knew what the threat was,” she tells Teen Vogue about the time she spent wondering whether she’d eventually appear on the screen. Molly, an Arab Muslim Harvard undergraduate student, wraps herself in a pashmina while speaking in an empty Harvard classroom; she has asked that her real name be withheld for safety reasons.
Molly’s face and name have been displayed on the truck meant to expose Harvard students affiliated with 34 student groups who signed a letter blaming Israel for the October 7 attacks by Hamas, in which 1,400 Israelis — the majority of whom were civilians — were indiscriminately killed and kidnapped. Some student groups have since removed their support from the letter.
“Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum,” the letter read. “For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison. Israeli officials promise to ‘open the gates of hell,’ and the massacres in Gaza have already commenced…. The apartheid regime is the only one to blame.”
The letter, published the same day as the attacks, was quickly condemned by many. Backlash was swift, and not just restricted to the campus community: Prominent professors spoke out against the letter, major donors pulled their support from the university, some students in groups that signed on had job offers rescinded, and the doxxing began.
The billboard truck, sponsored by conservative watchdog group Accuracy in Media, showed up on Harvard’s campus on October 11, flashing photos of students in the groups that had signed the letter. Their names and faces were posted online, websites started appearing under their names, and personal details were divulged. As a result, students say they are facing harassment, their families have been targeted, and some feel deeply unsafe walking alone on campus.
“My mother has been reached out to numerous times because of this,” Molly says. “The high school where my brother goes is listed online publicly, which obviously puts him in danger too. This has, I think, very much gone far beyond backlash.”
The truck arrived on campus as threats against Arab, Muslim, and Jewish people across the country rose in the wake of the Hamas attack; and division among Harvard students made many people feel unsafe on campus, even without the added stress of backlash from outside groups. Now some students are saying the administration hasn’t adequately supported them and has contributed to them feeling unsafe on campus.
Teen Vogue has reached out to Accuracy in Media for comment but, as of publishing time, has not heard back.
For those on the doxxing truck, the public exposure seems to be an effort to silence the voices of students on campus who support Palestine.
“I definitely have not felt safe…. on multiple levels,” Molly says of the last two weeks on campus. “I think, more than ever, I’ve been reminded again and again of what being Muslim means in the world, with what’s going on in Gaza and Palestine; what it means in this country, with some of the Islamophobic attacks that have happened over the past couple of days; but also, what it means to be a marginalized person on this campus.”
The first faces to appear on the truck, according to Molly and Amy,* another heavily doxxed undergrad who requested that her name be withheld for safety, were mostly Black and brown students, some of whom Molly and Amy say are undocumented.