The Associated Press exposed the New York Police Department over the weekend for keeping extensive and secret records on Muslim student groups in the northeast, including UB's Muslim Student Association.
The NYPD investigated MSAs at universities all across the northeast because in the past, numerous people arrested or convicted on terrorism charges had been members of Muslim clubs at school, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told the AP.
A November 2006 NYPD "Weekly MSA Report" marked "SECRET" details that then-UB MSA member Adeela Khan posted a link to a Muslim event in Toronto on the MSA's website, which featured speakers that the NYPD considered to have ties to "extremist Islamic groups."
The AP report also cited NYPD intelligence that detailed NYPD officers meeting with the Erie County Sheriff's Department in Buffalo "to develop assets jointly in the Buffalo area, to act as listening posts within the ethnic Somalian community." The report also says, "There are some Somali professors and students at SUNY Buffalo, and it would be worthwhile to further analyze that population."
The treasurer of the Student Association, who is Muslim and was president of the MSA last year, said the NYPD's actions constitute profiling. He didn't want his name printed in this article because he said that if a Muslim speaks about these issues or his name appears near the word ‘terrorism' in any way, he risks being in NYPD and FBI reports.
"The MSA has a big event today [Sunday], and nobody is showing up because people don't know if the FBI is there or not…I once had a parent [of a student in the MSA] come up to me and said, ‘I will kick your butt if I find my son in MSA,'" the SA treasurer said.
He said that some parents of Muslim students are aware of the government's wariness of MSAs, and they do not want their children to run the risk of appearing in police reports.
He also compared the NYPD's surveillance of UB's MSA to an incident earlier this year in which a Muslim UB student's car was defaced with swastikas in what she considered a hate crime.
"Somebody assumed that she was a Jew-hater because she's Muslim…The NYPD thinks every Muslim is a terrorist," the SA treasurer said.
The university released a statement saying that UB had no knowledge of the NYPD's actions.
"This was the first time that the university learned of this matter," the statement reads. "University at Buffalo officials were not contacted by NYPD, and the university did not provide any information to the NYPD. UB does not conduct this kind of surveillance, and, if asked, UB would not voluntarily cooperate with such a request. As a public university, UB strongly supports the values of freedom of speech and assembly, freedom of religion, and a reasonable expectation of privacy."