Over the past week, news sources have called to attention the alarming and ongoing police profiling and tracking of Muslim students at American universities. An Associated Press article cites such actions as tracking websites and blogs of Muslim student organizations and engaging in undercover reporting on student prayers. Such invasions of privacy have extended to Columbia in the past—as a recent Spectator article reports, NYPD tracking of the Muslim Students’ Association happened through 2007.
Reacting to the overflow of somewhat disturbing reports, Barnard President Deborah Spar sent an email to BC students regarding the sudden exposure of student monitoring:
Dear members of the Barnard community,
Recent news reports indicate that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has engaged in the monitoring of web sites of several Muslim Students Associations at colleges throughout the Northeast, and is alleged to have conducted surveillance of Muslim students at those institutions. In light of this news, I want to reiterate the College’s unwavering opposition to stereotyping, bigotry, and discrimination in any form.
Barnard College opposes the monitoring of any student or student group based on race, religion, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, or expression of political or religious ideas. The College is firmly committed to protecting the civil liberties of our students and stands by the Muslim Students Association in its concerns about the actions of the NYPD and its calls for further explanation. While the facts are not yet fully known, we want to emphasize that Barnard’s Department of Public Safety does not participate in or condone unlawful surveillance or monitoring of any kind, with any law enforcement agency, including the NYPD.
As an institution of higher learning, Barnard is a democracy of ideas, and diversity in every realm is at the core of our mission.