The following resolution was passed by the executive committee of the Hunter College PSC chapter today (October 19, 2011):
The executive committee of the Hunter College chapter of the Professional Staff Congress condemns the widespread spying on Muslim students and campus clubs by the New York Police Department that has been revealed in an on-going investigation by the Associated Press. The clandestine operation goes back at least to 2003, according to the reports.
Among the groups and campuses targeted were those at several colleges of the City University of New York, particularly Brooklyn College. At Hunter, as well as Queens College, City College and La Guardia, documents uncovered by AP reports say the police used “secondary” undercover agents, raising the possibility that other agencies or planted informants were used to infiltrate student associations.
The NYPD’s spying, infiltration and racial, religious and anti-immigrant profiling target our students and violate the basic democratic rights of all of us who work and study at Hunter and throughout the City University of New York. They are a fundamental violation of academic freedom, the effect of which can only be to chill and intimidate inquiry and discussion.
Such fishing expeditions violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protecting freedom of speech and association. The secret spying operation may also be in violation of a 1992 memorandum of understanding between the NYPD and the City University prohibiting city police from entering CUNY campuses in non-emergency situations without permission of university officials.
Despite CUNY officials’ denials that they knew of the spying operation, in some cases NYPD detectives were reportedly given access to student records, which would place CUNY in violation of the 1974 federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. According to that law, this could mean that all federal funding to the City University would be cut off, including research funds, Pell Grants and federal student loans.
The Hunter College chapter of the PSC joins with the Brooklyn Faculty Council in protesting this outrage, demanding that the police infiltration of City University stop, and calling on CUNY officials, including the Hunter administration and Public Safety Department, to detail their knowledge of or involvement in the spy operation, and to inform any groups or individuals targeted of the fact of the surveillance and the nature of the information gathered.
Furthermore, we urge appropriate individual plaintiffs to submit a Freedom of Information Act request requiring the City University, the NYPD and other agencies (including CIA and DHS) to turn over any documents concerning intelligence gathering at CUNY. Any employees or officials of the City University who participated in, cooperated with or knew of this illegal operation should have their employment terminated forthwith.
This must all stop now. The NYPD and all police/spy agencies must get off and stay off our campuses.