NEW YORK - The University of California at Irvine has suspended a Muslim student group whose members called Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren a "killer" during a speech on campus.
The Muslim Student Union was suspended for one year and placed on disciplinary probation for an additional year, following a campus judicial review of Oren's February 8 speech, which spurred chaos and protests. During Oren's address, MSU members interrupted nearly a dozen times, shouting, "Propagating murder is not an expression of free speech!" and "How many Palestinians did you kill?" Police arrested 11 students in the tumult that ensued.
On Monday, the university released a letter from a student affairs disciplinary committee, saying the group had been found guilty of disorderly conduct, obstructing university activities and other violations of campus policy.
The decision against the student group was praised by the local federation, which along with national groups sought to penalize the MSU and change an anti-Israel culture on campus.
"We commend the university for its judicious decision in support of free speech and civil discourse," said Shalom Elcott, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Orange County. "The university's disciplinary action regarding the MSU establishes an important and appropriate precedent and sends a powerful message to other universities across the nation."
But Jewish students on campus said they had been the targets of MSU
previously. Some in the community have called for a public boycott of UC
"While we would have liked for the administration to have come to this
conclusion more quickly," Elcott said, "we are pleased that after due
process, the MSU has finally been sanctioned."
The MSU has publicly denied being anti-Semitic, but last week brought a
speaker, Malik Ali, who compared Jews to Nazis. He also expressed
support for Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad.
Following the decision, the student group was also required to complete
50 hours of community service. It will not be allowed to hold campus
events until 2011.
A lawyer for the students said they had appealed the decision, according
to The Orange County Register
"This is nothing but collective punishment," said Reem Salahi, the
attorney. She said the decision was a recommendation, not a ban. Still,
she said, "all Muslim students on campus have been punished for the
actions of a few."