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Fate unclear for MSU

UCI student group says it did not orchestrate February incident. Still, suspension has been recommended.

July 10, 2010|By Mona Shadia, mona.shadia@latimes.com
  • Muslim Student Union members gather for prayer at the Interfaith on campus at UCI.
Muslim Student Union members gather for prayer at the… (Don Leach, Daily…)

Four years ago, Anam Siddiq was a new student at UC Irvine, nervous about what was in store, eager to make new friends and ready to pursue an education that would prepare her for a career.

Her first few days of school coincided with Ramadan, which requires a month of sunrise-to-sunset fasting for devout Muslims. Siddiq, an American born to Pakistani parents, found out about a group of students who put on an "Iftar," an evening ritual during Ramadan where fasting and non-fasting students broke the daily fast together.

That group was the Muslim Student Union, a bustling on-campus religious organization involved in religion, politics, education, volunteerism and social justice.

"I was first a freshman, and it's where I formed a lot of the friendships that I still have today — through these breaking of the fasts," Siddiq said.

Siddiq now holds degrees in literary journalism and history. She graduated in June, and credits the MSU for enriching her experience at UCI and for helping her become a better person and Muslim.

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But she leaves distressed about what might become of the organization.

A student conduct committee has recommended suspending the MSU for a year and placing it on probation. The suggestion follows the Feb. 8 incident in which students disrupted a speech on U.S.-Israeli relations by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.

After the disruption,

eight UCI students were arrested by campus police, who accused them of disordely conduct and disturbing the peace. The Orange County district attorney's office has not filed charges against them.

Planned or random?

At issue is whether the MSU planned the disruption or whether the students acted on their own accord.

The campus investigation, which examined e-mails, minutes from the MSU's general assembly meeting days before the Oren speech and interviews with the students involved, found that the disruption was organized — the MSU disputes this point.

Some of the students were also accused of lying to university officials about whether the disruption was spontaneous.

Alaa Alomar, who served as MSU's political activities coordinator, said the MSU did not orchestrate the disruption — an activity that she would have coordinated, given her position in the group.

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