NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been working closely with Rutgers University over decades studying refugees, suspected communists, and protestors.

The agency funded research on human behavior in the 1950’s at Rutgers University on Hungarian refugees who fled their country and came to the United States, in an effort to gain more insight, for U.S. intelligence, on oppression, mobility, the rise and fall of totalitarian governments, among many other aspects of human behavior.

Twenty years after the research was done, it was first reported by the Washington Post that Dr. Richard M. Stephenson, a sociology professor at Rutgers, had conducted studies on Hungarian refugees for the CIA.

These studies were revealed to be a part of a larger series of projects concerning human psychology infamously known as MK-ULTRA.

Stephenson has since written several publications stating he did not know the studies were funded by the CIA.

“The revelation that the CIA has covertly funded research through ostensibly respectable foundations and granting organizations raises a number of considerations relevant to sociologists and sociology…” he would later write in The American Sociologist.

The December 26, 1977 edition of the New York Times highlighted how Rutgers University Press published CIA-funded survey results in 1967.

It also came to surface that the the CIA had been studying totalitarian governments, their disruptions, the human experience, co-option and individual refugee’s experience including their cultural and political knowledge, sense of mobility and career goals.

Some of the results of these studies can be found in “The Pattern of Human Concern” by Hadley Cantril published by the Rutgers University Press in New Brunswick.

Hadley Cantril’s book is available free on the internet. In the study, participants were asked to rate their levels of confidence, senses of mobility, among other aspects of human behavior.

Starting on page 414, however, the report becomes more concerning when it begins to probe individual participants on their knowledge of Dwight Eisenhower and other politicians. At the time, the CIA was also conducting such projects on Chinese refugees.

Experiments and secret surveillance is not new to Rutgers University. It is not uncommon for state-funded universities to cooperate with the CIA, or other government agencies such as the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

For instance, there are reports of DIA agents spying on African Studies departments around 1966, throughout the decades, other Rutgers University professors have participated in CIA funded research. 

Around 1984, it was further revealed by the press that two professors, Mansbach and Waterman, had also been working with the CIA using student authored research without their knowledge in studying Berlin, the Soviet Union and other areas of national security interest.

According to a 1986 article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, the professors, with the help of the Rutgers political science department, received about $25,000 from the CIA to conduct research on Europe.

“Two Rutgers University professors were admonished yesterday by school officials who said they had failed to adhere to university guidelines while doing a research project for the Central Intelligence Agency and should have better informed a class in American foreign policy that its term papers would be part of the research,” according to the New York Times.

Members of the Rutgers community and activists, such as Abbie Hoffman, began calling for greater transparency from the CIA and have called for a code of ethics when dealing with intelligence gathering of this kind in connection to CIA activities at universities.

Today, Rutgers University generally works closely alongside the Central Intelligence Agency as well as a number of other government agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), providing its students with internships, job opportunities, and more.

The Miller Center for Community Protection & Resilience is located inside the Wood Lawn Carriage House near the Eagleton Institute.

Today, the University similarly to the other public universities nationwide, maintains relationships with the CIA and other federal agencies through its programs such as, the Miller Center for Community Protection & Resilience, the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), and the Center for Critical Intelligence Studies (CCIS).

Rutgers University has been a significant hub for counterterrorism studies, intelligence gathering and enhancing public safety since about January 2015 when the state university started working alongside the CIA and the DIA on grant-based projects, funded federally, to facilitate recruitment and training of Rutgers students interested in intelligence and national security.

The University boasts itself to have a cutting-edge global counterterrorism program. Recently, the university held a colloquium on anti-vaccine propaganda in the digital age.

These programs, which fall under the umbrella of Rutgers Institute for Secure Communities (RISC), draw their resources from various departments and schools including the Rutgers Eagleton Institute and Rutgers Law School.

Intelligence operatives have also kept a close eye on Rutgers, including one widespread surveillance operation that led to strong rebukes from civil rights advocates and the Muslim community.

During the 2000’s, the New York Police Department (NYPD) and at least one former CIA employee were conducting military-like studies on Muslim populations at Rutgers University and other schools far outside their jurisdiction.

As we reported, the secret “Demographics Unit” was first exposed to other authorities by way of a 2009 apartment inspection in New Brunswick, where operatives had abandoned a secret spy office in a luxury building downtown, leaving behind surveillance equipment, terrorist literature, and other strange items that eventually drew police.

This NYPD’s out-of-state surveillance was kept secret from the public until Associated Press reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman broke the story in 2011.

Reporter at New Brunswick Today

Molly O'Brien is a law student and reporter in the city of New Brunswick.

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Molly O'Brien

Molly O'Brien is a law student and reporter in the city of New Brunswick.