Dana-Farber Under Fire for Planned Fundraiser at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club
UPDATED, FEBRUARY 9, 3 p.m.:
With Dana-Farber’s Mar-a-Lago benefit looming, President Laurie Glimcher said in a statement that future hospital fundraisers will “avoid controversial venues that may distract from our focus on cancer care and research.” Her statement may begin to mend relations with the hospital’s critics—who say Dana-Farber should not support the Trump property, particularly after last month’s immigration ban—but the institution’s controversial fundraiser will still go forward as planned.
Following President Donald Trump’s heavily protested travel ban, faculty and students at Harvard Medical School (HMS) are urging Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) to cut ties with Trump and his swanky Mar-a-Lago Club.
Every year since 2011, DFCI has held a major fundraising event at the luxurious Trump property, paying up to $150,000 for the ritzy galas. But given the implications of Trump’s travel policy—which has not spared the Boston medical community—members of the HMS faculty and student body are imploring the Harvard-affiliated hospital to reconsider.
In a petition that has already gained more than 600 signatures, including many from DFCI staffers, HMS Advocacy writes that “to provide money to [Mar-a-Lago] and hold an event there is tantamount to endorsing President Trump, including his recent executive order on immigration and refugees.”
The petition goes on to say that DFCI has a moral obligation to denounce Trump and his policies, especially given its diverse patients and staff.
“By relocating the Discovery Celebration fundraiser, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute will demonstrate its core values to the nation, to the medical community, and most importantly, to patients,” the petition reads.
DFCI President Laurie Glimcher and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Josh Bekenstein voiced their concerns about the ban in a response to petition organizers. “Cancer knows no national boundaries, and we share your concern about the effect of the new executive order on immigration on our staff and patients,” they wrote in the response.
Still, they note that the fundraiser “is planned many months in advance, and raises critical funds to support this lifesaving work.” As such, “cancelling the event outright would only deny much-needed resources for research and care.”
The event is set to go forward as planned on February 18.
This story has been updated to include a comment from Dana-Farber.