Former Marine Austin Tice (SFS ’02) was kidnapped almost three years ago while freelance reporting in Syria. Since then, his family has recently started a campaign in cooperation with Reporters without Borders and advertising agency J. Walter Thompson in response to the murder of American reporter James Foley.

Over the next few weeks, this campaign will be promoted at Georgetown through the efforts of the Center for Student Engagement and its media advisory board (full disclosure: The Hoya is a member of the Media Board).

The facts themselves are unsettling. Austin Tice was taken from his family and his home for reporting the situation in Syria and surrounding areas. He was last seen September 2012, when a video pictured him bound and blindfolded, surrounded by armed captors, saying “Jesus, oh Jesus,” in broken Arabic moments before the clip ended.

For two and a half years, Austin’s family has not stopped searching for him, and Georgetown, as one of the communities he left behind and an institution founded on service for others, is obligated to aid the CSE in promoting the campaign.

With Austin in mind, we urge all students to familiarize themselves with his situation and spread the word and the hashtag #FreeAustinTice.

Participating is as simple as signing the petition on the “Free Austin Tice” page on the Reports Without Borders website, or taking the Blindfold Pledge, a picture taken of oneself wearing a blindfold, and posting it on social media.

The pledge shares a powerful message that we must all heed, that our world is deprived of information and blinded when journalists are brutally, unjustly silenced.
This past Wednesday, student leaders were invited by CSE Associate Director Amanda Carlton to an interest meeting outlining the extent of the Tice family’s public awareness campaign. In the coming weeks, the campus coordinators for #FreeAustinTice will be launching a full-scale campaign.

It is always jarring for members of a community to experience such an event. Austin Tice was a Hoya. When he was student at Georgetown, this campus was very much like the ones many of us take for granted. And for this reason, we are obligated to help.

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