NYU Warns You To Stay Away From Cults

As students in America’s largest city, there are many dangers that could befall us. We can get hit by a cab, get mugged, fall off a fire escape, get trapped in an elevator, get murdered, and other horrifying things. There’s certainly a lot for NYU Security to be concerned about, and we at NYU Local hope you stay safe. But there’s something we didn’t know NYU was worried about: cult recruiting.

On NYU’s campus safety site, there’s a section dedicated to identifying cults. Apparently, they have been known to recruit young, innocent souls in Washington Square Park. Public safety warns that cult members may “[share] with you the answers they have found to life’s questions, they may seek to enlist your time, energy, and resources in endeavors they believe to be worthwhile.”

NYU seems to be pretty much alone in their concerns, as other New York City universities make no mention of cults on their campus safety websites. Out of 20 NYU students surveyed, only two had ever seen obviously active cult members in the park, and they were the widely-known crazies The Hare Krishna. It seems unlikely that students who are in possession of enough mental acuity to be accepted to New York University would be tempted to throw on some orange robes and start chanting, but we suppose you never know.

Besides Elizabeth Olsen, there don’t seem to be too many NYU students out there who’ve signed up for forced group-think, collective living, and probable sexual misconduct or drug use. Although we suppose those terms could be used to describe college in general.

If you are ever approached by a charismatic stranger in the park who tempts you to free yourself of the shackles of polite society, think of Public Safety, and think about it before you say yes. Joining a cult is an excellent way of avoiding the stress of midterms, but it is also an excellent way to learn how to become a mass murderer.

We have approached NYU for comment, and have yet to hear back. Let us know if you have plans to join a cult! We would love to interview you.

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    Share Your Thoughts


  1. Michael R says

    The author is woefully misinformed and naive about cults. Contrary to popular belief, most successful cults are far more subtle than what is depicted in movies and almost anyone, no matter how smart they think they are, is vulnerable to cult manipulation. The real factor that protects one from cults is learning the tactics cults use combined with the capacity to critically examine one’s own views.

    When I attended NYU, I knew several people who were briefly sucked into cults. Cults know that college students, particularly freshman, often make easy targets because they may not have found their place in this new city and haven’t connected with people yet. So they typically begin by just seemingly innocently befriending people who seem lonely without making any overt references to an ideology. Before long, the group is showering that person with affection, treating them like the coolest person around. This is called “love bombing,” and it’s seductive to anyone with even the slightest bit of insecurities (i.e. everyone). It’s usually only later that the cult ideology is introduced gradually, and by the time the “recruit” starts noticing anything weird, if they’re as certain as the author of this piece that they are simply too smart to fall for a cult, cognitive dissonance sets in resulting in them rationalizing that they wouldn’t have spent all this effort with these people if they were a cult. So excuse me if I’m unimpressed with the author’s impressive 20-person survey.

    There are valuable cult-prevention resources on the web such as:

    The Rick A. Ross Foundation

    Also, this is a great lecture about cults from a former cult member –

    “Cults and Coercion: How Ordinary People are Turned into Extraordinary Fanatics” -Paul Grosswald (8/15/2009)

    Also, here’s a valuable resource:

  2. Jocelyn Silver says

    @Anita Whoa. Will keep a look out.

    @Michael R. This post was intended to be humorous, not a serious investigation of cults on campus. If you would like to bring light to this issue, please email us, and we could discuss doing an investigative article on cult activity at NYU.

  3. Dan P says

    If it’s supposed to be funny, maybe some actual jokes? Snarking at things is easy, but what, exactly, is the punchline? NYU is cult-like? How uncool is expressing concern for student welfare? Laugh at the issue if you want, but only recently a lot of people (some college educated…) squandered their life savings because some whack-job tried to predict the rapture, and that was no geat leap from mainstream religion, and it wasn’t even the hard sell. Connecting to Martha Marcy… is quite clever, but if you’ve built this article around that, then you’re in trouble.

  4. Deesha Philyaw says

    @Jocelyn I hope you will do an investigative article on cults that target college students at NYU and the surrounding area. You may wish to look at KipMcKean.com; Kip McKean has a long history of cult leadership and spiritual abuse, and his current church is called the International Christian Church. The NYC “branch” of this church is the New York City International Christian Church (ICC) http://www.newyorkcityicc.org/. As you can see from this schedule here http://www.newyorkcityicc.org/?page_id=748, the church has twice-weekly meeting targeted to NYU students.

    Because these groups crash and burn or get blacklisted, they regroup and change names. The NYC church used to be called The Empire City International Christian Church. The ICC, and the ICOC which the ICC split from, have been banned from many college campuses nationwide, but they sometimes reappear as secular groups (e.g., posing as an student engineering society) and continue to lure college students into the fold.

  5. says

    The Cult word gets overused,but in some cases it is appropriate.

    A cult does not require any set number of leaders, only the inerrant belief that they are the ONLY TRUE RELIGION. Nothing else matters once that ego kicks in and messes with their heads. Once that engages, it usually takes a life-changing event or change of circumstances to get them to reconsider their beliefs.

    The definition of a destructive religious cult is like alcoholism-if booze controls you instead of the other way around you are an alcoholic.
    Religion can be benign then there are hard core fundy groups that want to rule and control you like hard core alcoholism.
    The Watchtower society Jehovah’s Witnesses as an example is not benevolent and won’t let you leave their organization in peace.
    If they try to ruin your reputation and break up your family for trying to get out then they are a cult!

    ”tell the truth don’t be afraid–Danny Haszard

  6. Ashley H says

    Hey ya’ll…..actually, this “group” (cult) that they are talking about is a church called “____ International Christian Church”…i leave the ____ beacuse wherever there is a location, they put the name in the ____ .

    My husband was involved, and its something you need to research and warn people about. They will come off extremely FOR GOD, but once you get in…..youll see the truth.

  7. says

    You can find a lot more information about the International Christian Church on the website http://www.exicc.org, which contains more accurate information than the “official” church sites mentioned above. This site is written by an ex-member and goes into detail about their cultish practices.