BOSTON — Smith College on Friday defended its decision to ban media from a recent student sit-in unless reporters declared solidarity with the protesters .

The Northampton, Massachusetts, college said in a statement it wasn’t notified in advance of the students’ request. The demonstration, held at Smith’s campus center, joined dozens across the U.S. calling for better treatment of minority students.

Staff members at the private women’s school “were forced to make a decision in the moment,” the statement said.

“On balance, as strongly as the college prefers to err on the side of a campus open to media, the students’ opposition to it at their own event – which they had created and were hosting – was honored,” according to the statement from Smith, a private, liberal arts college of about 3,000 students.

The decision added fuel to a debate about the relationship between protesters and the media. Activists at other campuses have also created “safe spaces” away from the media recently. In one case this month, protesters at the University of Missouri pushed journalists away from a public area of campus.

At Smith, one student told on Wednesday that “by taking a neutral stance, journalists and media are being complacent in our fight.” The student, Alyssa Mata-Flores, a senior who helped organize the protest, didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

In its statement, the college said it doesn’t support restrictions on the media and that it doesn’t ban media from public events.

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