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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Undercover Operation Angers Brooklyn College Students

The NYPD thinks this college sophomore is a threat?
From "The Brooklyn Ink" blog.

By Omar Akthar, "Undercover Operation Angers Brooklyn College Students," Tue, Oct 11, 2011

Students at Brooklyn College reacted, at turns, with both outrage and acceptance over a report that the New York Police Department used undercover officers to infiltrate Muslim student groups on campus.
According to a CBS news report this morning, The Associated Press obtained documents that show that the NYPD has been sending undercover officers to schools and colleges like Brooklyn College to infiltrate Muslim student groups and monitor their activities.
“It’s definitely scary, it makes me think twice about what I say when I’m speaking to someone on the phone when I’m on campus,” said sophomore Faria Imtiaz, a member of the Muslim Students Association. “It shows that if it could happen to us, it could happen to anyone.”

This wasn’t her first brush with police surveillance. “The NYPD released a list of institutions that were under surveillance for potential Islamic fundamentalism, one of them turned out to be my high school,” she said. Still, she added, maybe actions like this are necessary in the times we live in.
Konstantinos Marinakis, a senior, supported the department’s actions.
Konstantinos Marinakis, Brooklyn College Student by Omar Bilal Akhtar
He said that while there should be surveillance, it shouldn’t be specific for only certain groups. “I don’t agree it should be specific groups, “ he said. “The NYPD should go undercover in schools to infiltrate all groups ”

But sophomore Elizabeth Allan called the operation racist, a violation of privacy, and an example of racial profiling.

The operation may, in fact, violate U.S. privacy laws—and may also jeopardize federal funding for the universities if the department were to hand over student records without their consent to the police, law professor Ramzi Kassen told the AP.
The City University of New York has had an understanding with the NYPD since 1992 that states that in non-emergency situations, police officers may enter CUNY premises only upon the request or approval of a CUNY official.
Jeremy Thompson, the Senior Director of Communications and Marketing at Brooklyn College said, “If these allegations prove correct, it is certainly something that has happened without our knowledge.”

According to documents obtained by the AP, the NYPD may have gained access to student records through working with campus security, under the pretense of working on gang or narcotics cases. This would be a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal statute, according to Richard Rainsberger, a consultant on college privacy laws told the AP. If the college is found to be violating this statute, it could lose all its federal funding.
Thompson said that it was not unusual for the college to cooperate with the NYPD. “I don’t know if there is any veracity to that claim or not, but I can tell you we have a very good relationship with the NYPD. Our public safety officers are in regular communication with the 70th precinct here,” he said. “But we are certainly bound by the FERPA, and so anything that would have been done as far as the release of student records or documents would have been under those guidelines.”
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