MANHATTAN — Columbia University will launch an investigation into reports that NYPD counter-terrorism officers have been spying on Muslim students attending the 250-year-old institution, the Associated Press reported.
University President Lee C. Bollinger said in a statement that the school would begin analyzing the extent of the NYPD’s surveillance on campus, which reportedly occurred over the course of several years, beginning in 2006, and included monitoring the public websites of Muslim student groups.
Bollinger added that Columbia officials were unaware of the NYPD’s activities until the AP report came out. Since then, several deans and other university officials have been holding meetings with students to discuss their concerns, he said.
"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," Bollinger said.
Columbia is one of several Northeastern universities, including Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania, that have reportedly been targets of NYPD counter-terrorism efforts. The Associated Press reported that the NYPD's efforts have also focused on searching the websites of Muslim student associations and sending an undercover agent on a City College whitewater rafting trip, where he recorded how many times students prayed.