As part of our teaching mission here at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling we have a number of undergraduates working with us. Two of them are Aresty Research Assistants this year. The Aresty Program provides students with a number of different opportunities to get involved with faculty and research at Rutgers. The following post is by Abdul Rehman Khan, who has been working on a number of things for us this year. Abdul picked up on the NYPD Muslim monitoring issue and had a direct impact on what we did with that. Here’s his post:
Working at the Eagleton Poll
Abdul Rehman Khan
The Eagleton Poll is a great place to work; I’m not being paid to write this, just my grade depends on it. Jokes aside, I can tell you about an incidence that is incredibly rare at such a large academic institution: the opportunity for an undergraduate student to not just have his opinion heard regarding research conducted by a Professor and phD candidates, but have that opinion actually be incorporated into that respect research.
About a month ago, Ashley, a Political Science graduate student, sent an email to the Eagleton Poll team of 12 (undergraduates included), asking if there were any issues/questions/suggestions that should be covered in the upcoming Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Just around that time, it was revealed that NYPD was doing surveillance into Muslim/Arab groups in universities across the Northeast, including Rutgers University. In fact, in 2009, a superintendent found an NYPD safe house used to spy on the Rutgers University Muslim Students Association in his apartment building after complaints from neighbors who thought it was a terrorist cell. Also around that time, President McCormick officially condemned the actions of the NYPD, alongside the presidents of Yale and Columbia.
With this in mind, I found it key that the next Rutgers-Eagleton Poll would touch upon this topic. I submitted my proposal with a sample question. The Eagleton Poll responded with enthusiasm and in no time, as I supervised the Eagleton Calling Center, I heard rows of callers all reading questions based on a proposal that an undergraduate had put forth. Despite the unfortunate and chilling truth that most New Jersey voters support NYPD surveillance of minority groups across the Northeast, and despite my initial efforts to show that New Jersey citizens were more open-minded in their thinking due to our diversity, I found comfort in knowing that I, as an undergraduate, had lent to highlighting this issue of discrimination. Although I did not find the results I was looking for, I knew that at the very least I was given an opportunity to look for these results. Few departments and centers grant undergraduate sophomores the chance to think, engage, and lend to research; the Eagleton Poll is one of these few places.