Groups denounce MSU suspension recommendation

They cite a 2006 incident where students were not reprimanded for heckling a speaker to the point he couldn't finish his speech.

July 23, 2010|By Mona Shadia,

Fourteen civil rights organizations, including the Jewish Voice for Peace and the Center for Constitutional Rights, sent a letter Thursday to UC Irvine condemning its recommendation to suspend the Muslim Student Union on campus.

The groups, which represent a wide range of races, ethnicities and religions, say suspending the MSU will alienate the students, especially in the post 9/11 era.

"Following Sept. 11, Muslims in America have faced intensified hate crimes, violence and discrimination, as well as racial, ethnic and religious profiling by local and federal law enforcement," the letter reads. "Disbanding the MSU, even temporarily, greatly exacerbates these larger harms and further stigmatizes the Muslim community.


"Even if another Muslim group is allowed to form to alleviate these concerns, banning the MSU nonetheless marginalizes this vulnerable community and brands them as perpetual outsiders."

A UCI Student Conduct Committee in May recommended suspending the MSU for a year following an investigation into a Feb. 8 incident where students repeatedly disrupted Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's speech on campus. Oren's speech about U.S.-Israeli relations, which was sponsored by UCI School of Law, School of Social Sciences and a Jewish student group, the Anteaters for Israel, was repeatedly disrupted by eight UCI and three UC Riverside students.

The students were arrested by campus police for the disruption, but later released. Although their case was forwarded to the Orange County district attorney's office, charges were never filed.

The school investigation holds that the protests were organized and orchestrated by the MSU. The investigation cites minutes from MSU's general assembly meeting, which detailed their plans and goals for disrupting the speech.

But the MSU's students say the organization was not responsible for the individuals who choose to disrupt the speech on their own accord. Alaa Alomar, who served as the group's political activities coordinator until June, has told the Daily Pilot that the MSU held the meeting five days before Oren's speech to discuss a plan responding to his presence.

Although the group wanted to orchestrate a protest, the plan fell through because of disagreements among the MSU members on what course of action should be taken, she said, adding that the protest by the students became separate from the organization itself.

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