Hartley claims documenting research interests would have been the benign remedy:
for JWs would ask - well, then why did you register instead of taking the benign approach of simply documenting your research interests?I think the answer to that question may be found in the words of the Head Librarian:
Passes are granted to serious researchers upon presentation of a letter with the raised seal of your institution and subject to clearance by both the Library and UN Security.Perhaps the notion of having a lowly librarian pass judgment on the worthiness of the research interests of God's organization might have been more distasteful to the Watchtower than getting on the list of affiliated NGOs. It seems that there is a measure of discomfort either way, so it's not so cut and dried.
Add to that the possibility that the passes to graduate students and other research institutions may not have been for a full year, as is the case for affiliated NGOs, and we might imagine that the balance tips in favor of affialiation.
Finally, the Watchtower may not wish to portray itself or its representives as a collection of "serious researchers." The association with the worldliness of university scholars might have been more than they wished to endure.
Thus, I can think of at least three answers the Watchtower could give to questioning Jehovah's Witnesses. I can see the downside to either path followed by the Watchtower: affiliation, or becoming "serious researchers."
Joseph F. Alward
"Skeptical Views of Christianity and the Bible"