- Students at schools including MIT, Wellesley, and Brown have signed a petition agreeing not to work for Palantir.
- Palantir provides software for ICE, which has been used for workplace raids and deportations.
- Earlier this month, Palantir CEO Alex Karp wrote in the Washington Post that the company would continue its ICE contracts.
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More than 1,200 students from 17 schools have signed a document pledging that they will not work at Palantir until it stops working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The letter has been circulating for 10 days, and organisers say they will continue adding signatures in the coming months. Signers already include students from Yale, MIT, Harvard, Wellesley, Brown, Georgia Tech, and other elite schools that feed talent into companies like Palantir.
Palantir did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the letter.
Palantir provides ICE with data-mining software that the government agency uses to screen undocumented immigrants and conduct workplace raids. In August, Business Insider reported that Palantir employees were divided about the company’s ICE contracts, and at least two internal letters were circulated in protest. In September, Palantir CEO Alex Karp wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post arguing that “tech CEOs shouldn’t be making policy,” doubling down on his commitment to continuing the company’s government projects.
Palantir has spent thousands securing corporate recruiting partnerships with universities included in this pledge. According to a press release about the student letter, these partnerships give it special access to students through career fairs, faculty advisors, information sessions, and more. Palantir is a supporter of the U.C. Berkeley Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science’s Corporate Access Program, at a cost of $US20,000 a year. It also contributes $US24,000 a year to the Stanford Computer Forum, in exchange for access to students. These are only a few of their agreements with universities, according to the press release.
Students organising around blacklisting Palantir is part of a larger movement called “#NoTechForICE,” which encourages technology workers to boycott companies including Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, and others that work with ICE.
The organisation says its goals are:
- Exposing tech’s outsized role in criminal justice and immigration enforcement
- Educating communities about how to protect themselves against new forms of criminalization
- Taking direct action to confront corporate actors
- Organising with tech workers and students to leverage their influence over Silicon Valley
- Targeting specific companies with demands to end their collaborations.
Student organisers say that without these corporate agreements between Palantir and schools, the company’s recruitment and growth would stall as it becomes unable to attract top talent. According to the creators of the petition, the corporate partnerships with elite schools sanitize Palantir’s image and allow it to disassociate from its role in workplace raids and deportations.
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