Brooklyn College was hit with a misleading news story from The New York Post on Monday morning, claiming that it “doesn’t want police using campus bathrooms.”
The story claims that Brooklyn College’s “cop-hating students” direct officers who need a bathroom to “broken-down facilities in a building on the far edge of campus,” referring to the West End Building. The Post interviewed two police officers, or “cops,” who weren’t named for the interview, with a quote from one officer, “that protester culture is warping their f–king minds.” Neither of the officers chose to identify themselves.
The Post cited a 200-word article in Brooklyn College student newspaper The Excelsior, which included a quote from one anonymous student who said he was in the process of drafting a petition to keep NYPD off campus.
The story was nationally aired on Fox News Monday morning and garnered the presence of local affiliates NBC New York and WCBS-TV at 4:30 p.m. on Bedford Avenue, among other various news outlets, online and on television. NBC New York could be seen interviewing students about the same subject that The Post had published earlier.
Brooklyn College President Michelle Anderson set the record straight on Monday with a statement explaining that The Post’s story included falsehoods about how the New York Police Department is treated when present on campus.
“This morning, the New York Post published a misleading article about Brooklyn College and our relationship to the New York City Police Department. Brooklyn College does, in fact, welcome police to use its campus bathrooms. No policy has changed. We have always allowed public servants to use our facilities under a neutral policy that applies to police, sanitation workers, traffic enforcement agents, and others who work in the field. Everyone needs to use the bathroom at one time or another. Today, I met with the leadership of the local precinct and borough command to reassure them that members of the New York City Police Department are welcome to use our bathrooms. Since becoming president, I have worked to establish a strong relationship with local law enforcement, and we reaffirmed that relationship today.”
A Brooklyn College spokesperson from the Communications Department also noted that they released a statement to The Post Friday night, but that The Post omitted part of the clause that was originally given to them. The original statement that was given to The Post was “Brooklyn College offers the use of our facilities to the NYPD and other public servants — including sanitation workers, and traffic enforcement agents — as a courtesy.” The Post omitted the phrase “and other public servants – including sanitation workers, and traffic enforcement agents.”
Student Body President Nissim Said, a Public Accounting Business Management and Finance Major, who was quoted in The Post article, also felt that he was inappropriately represented.
“I have no involvement in the creation of any NYPD related petitions,” Said said. “I was only trying to explain to The Post why students feel the way they do. They did an awful job of presenting the full story.”
The Post also left out critically important information, including that, due to a severely underfunded budget for City University of New York (CUNY) schools, infrastructure problems that are pictured in The Post’s article routinely plague the entirety of the campus, not only the building where NYPD use the facilities.
A toilet missing its seat can be found in Boylan Hall. A bucket catching dripping water from a sink can be seen in the “New Ingersoll Extension” that was built onto the main Ingersoll building. No soap or paper towels is a problem even inside Brooklyn College’s most iconic building, the library, famous for its clock tower that is featured in the official logo for the college. The Kingsman has extensively reported on infrastructure disrepair and budgetary woes over the past two years, including articles that feature broken and dis-repaired bathrooms of both genders, only two plumbers available to fix over 100 bathrooms on campus, and, as of May 2017, a security camera system that isn’t fully functional.
The CUNY budget falls under New York City and State politics and Brooklyn College leadership and administration feel helpless to the problem, such as was stated in March of 2017 in a Kingsman article by Brooklyn College President Anderson, “we know how serious this is and we know we have a problem.”
The student identified as “Abe” in The Post article who was interviewed for the story was correct in explaining the bathroom is “horrendous,” but the NY Post failed to ask Abe about the condition of the other bathrooms on campus, which typically are in the same shape as consistent with the bathroom that the reporters described. The Professional Staff Congress (PSC) is a union that represents more than 27,000 faculty and staff at CUNY, and the fight for a budget that can cover, in the least, inflation expenses for the entire CUNY community is documented on their website psc-cuny.org.
The Kingsman posted on Brooklyn College’s official Facebook page Monday evening, seeking the opinion from students on the presence of NYPD on campus. In an unscientific poll asking, “Should NYPD be allowed on the premises,” 123 students voted yes, and 29 students voted no, of the students that had the chance to see the poll in the short period of time. While the comment section of the poll garnered lots of attention and discussion, not a single commenter thought that the NYPD should be barred from campus restrooms. Discussion instead centered on questions such as whether police should be allowed to spy on students without a warrant, and whether officers should be allowed on campus with a loaded firearm. Prohibiting police from using campus bathrooms was never once included in the discussion in the comments section. Ashira Silver, a Business Major said, “I think, that with how lax campus security is, we can use police on campus. Quite frankly I’d feel safer.”
Also mentioned in the NY Post article are student “sentiments on an NYPD operation that sent an undercover cop to infiltrate the school’s Muslim community in search of Islamic terrorists.”
The story was originally published by the Gothamist and written by independent journalist Aviva Stahl. The undercover cop who went by the name “Mel” stood up and accepted the Shahadah, the Muslim testimony of faith, amongst her peers on campus, and also immersed herself in the student community, attended Islamic education classes, and attended at least two bridal showers, even showing up with a cake that she carried with her on the train. She also attended a wedding as a bridesmaid of a peer in the Islamic community on campus. Students, Muslim and non-Muslim, were shaken by the news of how deeply Mel was able to infiltrate student lives on campus. Mel was successful in 2015 in helping federal officers in the capture two Queens women, Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui for stockpiled tanks of propane gas for an ISIS-inspired attack in New York City. The two women were not affiliated with Brooklyn College.
The Excelsior’s Managing Editor and author of the original article, Zainab Iqbal, said that The Post blew her simple story out of proportion.
“The Excelsior reported a simple story: cops are allowed to use the bathrooms on campus. Nowhere did we write ‘BC students hate cops and are triggered by the NYPD,’” Iqbal told The Kingsman in a statement via e-mail. “The NY Post did that. They made that claim by ‘interviewing’ two students on campus and ‘investigating’ one broken bathroom. They failed to recognize that almost every other bathroom is ‘broken’ one way or another. They had a misleading story… and that’s unfair.”