12:44 pm Oct. 12, 2011
After an Associated Press report about police surveillance of a student group at Brooklyn College, the chairman of the City Council's Higher Education Committee, Ydanis Rodriguez, said he will call a hearing of his own.
There are potential turf issues here, for sure.
In an attempt to ensure that this hearing isn't co-opted by the Council's Public Safety Committee, whose chairman, Peter Vallone Jr., is a staunch defender of the NYPD and who recently held a hearing on the NYPD's surveillance operations, the parameters of the Higher Education Committee's hearings appear to have been very carefully laid out: They will not mention the NYPD, security, or anything related to the topic of safety. Instead, Rodriguez is requesting the hearing to discuss the "contributions" Muslim students have made to the City University of New York's system of colleges.
It will be more a means of making a statement, in other words, than conducting an inquest. A date for the hearing has not been announced yet.
In a brief interview this afternoon, I asked Rodriguez for his reaction to the latest A.P. story. Rodriguez said he is personally familiar with the issue of student associations being scrutinized .
"I know what it is to be a student and had to deal with being [under] surveillance," he said. "When I was at City College, they put a device in front of the men's room by the student group that we used to have, in our campus."
He added, "There was a device inside the smoke detector in front of the door."
In reference to the A.P. story about NYPD surveillance at Brooklyn College, Rodriguez said, "I'd like to believe it's not happening."
[Note: This item was slightly expanded from an earlier version.]