The communities in the New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and beyond are starting to respond to the secret NYPD of Muslim students on college campuses far beyond the city scope of NYC.
The Presidents of many of these universities are starting to release statements on the NYPD abuses. We now have responses from Yale, Rutgers, UPenn, and other universities. They are uniformly ciritcal of NYPD's religious and racial profiling of Muslim students.
To the Yale Community,
The Associated Press has released a document showing that the New York Police Department monitored the web sites of many Muslim Students Associations, including our association here at Yale, and may have conducted improper surveillance of Muslim students at other institutions. I am writing to state, in the strongest possible terms, that police surveillance based on religion, nationality, or peacefully expressed political opinions is antithetical to the values of Yale, the academic community, and the United States. Also I want to make sure our community knows that the Yale Police Department has not participated in any monitoring by the NYPD and was entirely unaware of NYPD activities until the recent news reports.
The Yale Muslim Students Association has been an important source of support for Yale students during a period when Muslims and Islam itself have too often been the target of thoughtless stereotyping, misplaced fear, and bigotry. Now, in the wake of these disturbing news reports, I want to assure the members of the Yale Muslim Students Association that they can count on the full support of Yale University.
Richard C. Levin
“UB does not conduct this kind of surveillance and if asked, UB would not voluntarily cooperate with such a request,” the university said in a written statement. “As a public university, UB strongly supports the values of freedom of speech and assembly, freedom of religion, and a reasonable expectation of privacy.” http://www.buffalonews.com/city/schools/article736701.ece
Statement by Rutgers University
February 20, 2012
Rutgers University takes great pride in the diversity of our student body, and we work hard to make sure that all students feel safe and welcome at all of our campuses. Rutgers University had no knowledge at the time that the New York Police Department (NYPD) was conducting surveillance near the university’s campuses in Newark and New Brunswick. Once the university learned that these activities had occurred, Rutgers was informed that the NYPD’s investigation was not within the university’s legal jurisdiction. The university was not aware that members of the Rutgers community were allegedly targets of this investigation.
Given the concerns raised by members of the Rutgers community, the university would welcome a thorough investigation by the NYPD of its own activities.
While all the facts are not known and the reasons for actions of the NYPD have not been shared with the university, it is important to state that Rutgers does not condone the surveillance of any members of our community based on their race, gender, ethnicity or religious beliefs.
And the response from the University of Pennsylvania:
Recent reports of surveillance activities by the NYPD have raised understandable concerns on campus. While the University has been assured that no individual Penn students were subject to the surveillance or monitoring, the fact that students on our campus feel scrutinized simply because of their religious affiliation, race or national origin is a sad and troubling statement on our times.
We have prospered as a University in no small part because students feel safe and welcome here. They know that Penn supports their growth and cares about them as individuals, regardless of their race, heritage, religious affiliation, cultural or socioeconomic background, nationality, sexual orientation or political outlook.
While the University cannot protect students from the harsh realities of the world we all live in, we do want every student on this campus to understand and appreciate that they are valued and supported as members of the Penn community.
Nothing will deter Penn from being student centered and student supportive. That is our mission, and that is our promise to every student at Penn.
The statement from these universities (with the exception of Yale) is both important and a bit disappointing, because the authorities could not bring themselves to even mention the words Muslim or Muslim Student Association in their statements. And yet everyone acknowledges that the NYPD crossed state lines to use ethnic and religious profiling to spy on Muslim students.
The story is bound to continue, because we see that even in NYC, arguably the most cosmopolitan city in North America, the seeds of prejudice are present at an institutional level.
Yes, there is a real threat among an extreme minority of Muslims in America. The question is how we collectively deal with that without disenfranchising all citizens, including those who are most vulnerable and marginalized.
And yes, there is the reality of prejudice against African-Americans, against immigrants, and against Muslims among many in the law enforcement. In other words, what is at stake is nothing less than the future of the American experiment, and our ability to live together not in spite of our diversity, but through and because of it. If we come to fear each other due to our racial, ethnic, sexual, and religious diversity, the voices of terror and fear--literally, the terrorists--have won.