[Marxism] Columbia University President statement on cop surveillance of Muslim student groups

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Feb 24 14:21:53 MST 2012


Dear Fellow Members of the Columbia Community:

As many of you know, the Associated Press recently reported that 
more than a dozen colleges in the Northeast, including Columbia 
and some of our fellow Ivy League universities, were the subject 
of NYPD surveillance that included the monitoring of public 
websites run by Muslim student groups, as well as some instances 
of other surveillance.  The article states that the surveillance 
occurred over several years beginning in 2006 and involved the use 
of undercover agents at some schools, though there has been no 
suggestion that the NYPD surveillance at Columbia extended beyond 
the monitoring of websites.  It nevertheless must be said that 
such an intrusion into the normal, daily activities of our 
students raises deeply troubling questions that should concern us 
all.

As we have stated, the University and our Department of Public 
Safety had no prior knowledge and learned of these NYPD activities 
only when they were reported by the news media.  The public 
response by universities, including my statement earlier this 
week, uniformly objected to the government monitoring of students 
purely based on race, nationality, or, as was the case here, 
religion.  While we appreciate the daunting responsibility of 
keeping New York safe, law enforcement officials should not be 
conducting such surveillance of a particular group of students or 
citizens without any cause to suspect criminal conduct.

We should all be able to appreciate the deeply personal concerns 
of the Muslim members of our community in learning that their 
activities were being monitored—and the chilling effect such 
governmental efforts have on any of us in a university devoted to 
the foundational values of free speech and association.

Several deans and other University officials have been meeting 
with students this week to discuss the personal concerns and 
important questions raised by this entire matter, and additional 
meetings for this purpose will soon be announced.  We will in the 
days and weeks ahead need both to learn more about what has 
actually occurred with respect to our community and to higher 
education institutions in the area, and to reaffirm the 
University’s commitment to protecting the interests of individual 
privacy and of free and open discussion on campus.

Sincerely,

Lee C. Bollinger




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