In a Monday night email to the Yale community, University President Richard Levin responded to reports that surfaced on Saturday that the New York Police Department monitored Muslim students at Yale and at least 14 colleges around the Northeast.
Levin said the Yale Police Department did not participate in the NYPD’s surveillance, which included trawling the websites, forums and blogs of Muslim student associations at colleges including Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania in 2006 and 2007. He said the University was “entirely unaware” of NYPD activities until the Associated Press first reported the monitoring Saturday.
“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,” Levin wrote. “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.”
The NYPD recorded the names of students and professors involved in Muslim student associations and related events in reports prepared for New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, though none were charged with a crime. In a Nov. 22, 2006 NYPD secret document titled “Weekly MSA Report,” an NYPD officer reported that he visited the websites and forums of Muslim student associations at Yale, Columbia, Penn and eight other colleges and “did not find significant information.”
In response to those activities, Levin stressed that police surveillance based on religion, national or “peacefully expressed political opinions” is “antithetical” to the values of Yale and the United States.
The Associated Press documented NYPD undercover monitoring of Muslim student associations as recently as 2009, when police set up a safe house in New Brunswick, N.J., to follow the Muslim student group at Rutgers University.