NYPD Surveillance: PrezBo Responds Again

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Following AP‘s reveal of NYPD surveillance of Muslim student groups both inside and outside the city extended to Columbia, PrezBo and DSpar responded with disapproval. But was disapproval enough? Columbia’s MSA called for an outright condemnation. Just about half an hour ago, PrezBo sent yet another e-mail that Columbia had no prior knowledge to the event. He stresses that we must feel compassion for those affected and assures us that remedial action will be taken on campus.

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.


Lee C. Bollinger

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  1. Donald Trump

    Not good enough! That response is only like 500 words.

  2. El Bloombito

    Esta un grande misunderstanding. Yo only spy on los muslimiños por que yo necessito to know el besto carto de falafel.

  3. About time  

    six days later....

  4. What do you call

    the chemistry professor who uses hidden cameras to ensure that no one cheats on his final exams?

    Sir Valence.

  5. Anonymous  

    (about time, PresBo. only took two town hall meetings and various articles on bwog/spec to be published displaying concern over your lack of response first.)
    but nice. thank you.

  6. yah i dont think so  

    he's essentially saying the same thing he said in his first statement: herp derp derp derp herp derp derp.

    We *need* to learn about what has happened, but Bollinger's not going to do anything to assist that process, forget about the possibility of calling for an investigation. NYPD shouldnt be surveilling muslims without any cause to suspect criminal conduct, but Bollinger's not going to call Kelly and tell him to back the fuck off.

    And by the way, guys, there HAS been suggestion that there was more surveillance than monitoring public websites, and that would be why we're all flipping a shit. No one's naive enough to think Muslims, or anyone on this campus really, is ever completely safe from surveillance, but it's another matter entirely knowing that our prayer rooms, our halaqas, our iftaars, our safe spaces could have been and may still be compromised, that we cant speak without the fear of it going in a file somewhere alongside how many times a day we've been spotted praying on a white water rafting trip (serioussllyyyy)

  7. Now he has written something  

    What will he do with it? Will he also have the balls to discuss what this means? Will he let his voice just be a reaction where it will fade into the noise of the past or will he act? We need to make sure that equality stays true on campus both from public observation to on campus daily actions. The Nypd should be forced to hand over their report to the public. I want to see their report.

  8. Anonymous

    Sorry, but have you read the admonitions on the MSA webpage to "remain silent"? Remain silent about what? If you haven't done anything, what do you need to remain silent about? What are you covering up? What should we be looking for?

    • Stop with the Muslim Scare  

      That you haven't done anything wrong only narrowly reduces the possibility of getting in trouble.

      Staying silent is your legal right. It's not to hide anything, but to protect you from saying anything that can be misconstrued and used against you in court which is esp important given that it's all too possible to interpret anything to sound suspicious.

  9. Anonymous

    Oh, yah I don't think so, nobody has any safe places any more. Nineteen people made damn sure of that.

    • but  

      dood wut about the safe spaces

      • Anonymous

        If your definition of "safe space" means a place where your views are accepted without question, and those who question it are unwelcome, then I say Columbia as a whole as a moral duty to be "unsafe". If your definition of "safe space" is a location where you can make speeches glorifying terrorism and promoting acts of terrorism, then the entire United States should be "unsafe".

  10. Anonymous

    We can stop with the Muslim scare when religious people stop being so scary. Radical Muslims or Hutaree Christian Militias belong in the same grouping of nutjobs. The admonitions on the MSA page strongly resemble the language on Hutaree and other extremist Christian websites. This is the intellectual company you keep. Additionally, don't F-1 Visas carry with them an agreement to cooperate with the government and its representatives? So, by so advising foreign students are you jeopardizing their visas?

    • Track Button

      You know, we can use the track button. Isn't one post enough? I respect -your- right to provide a viewpoint, but you don't have to voice your hateful views FOUR times in conversation with yourself.

      • Anonymous

        Hey, TRackie, I don't know what you're talking about, but I posted four different posts in response to others' posts. You have a good one and let us know when you have something to add to the conversation.

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