Michael Oren pose 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
NEW YORK – A Muslim student group has announced it will appeal a decision by the
University of California at Irvine to suspend it after its members called
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren a “killer” during a speech on campus.
Muslim Student Union (MSU) 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.
spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon said the committee’s decision would be a
recommendation to the campus’s office of student affairs if the planned
by the group did not succeed.
During Oren’s address, MSU members
interrupted nearly a dozen times, shouting, “Propagating murder is not
expression of free speech!” and “How many Palestinians did you kill?”
arrested 11 students in the tumult that ensued.
On Monday, the university
released a letter from a student affairs disciplinary committee, saying
group had been found guilty of disorderly conduct, obstructing
activities and other violations of campus policy.
The decision against
the student group was praised by the local Jewish federation, which –
national groups – sought to penalize the MSU and change an anti-Israel
“We commend the university for its judicious decision in
support of free speech and civil discourse,” said Shalom Elcott,
CEO of the Jewish Federation of Orange County.
disciplinary action regarding the MSU establishes an important and
precedent and sends a powerful message to other universities across the
But Jewish students on campus said they had been the targets of
MSU previously. Some in the community have called for a public boycott
“While we would have liked for the administration to have come to
this conclusion more quickly,” Elcott said, “we are pleased that after
process, the MSU has finally been sanctioned.”
The MSU has publicly
denied being anti-Semitic, but last week brought a speaker, Malik Ali,
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
hold campus events until 2011.
A lawyer for the students said they had
appealed the decision, according to The Orange County Register.
nothing but collective punishment,” said Reem Salahi, the attorney. She
decision was a recommendation, not a ban. Still, she said, “all Muslim
on campus have been punished for the actions of a few.”
The MSU condemned
Oren’s appearance but insisted it had not organized the protests.
disciplinary committee, however, said a review of online message group
conversations and minutes from an MSU meeting revealed that the group
engineered the protests and instructed participants to lie about its
“Be VERY LOUD, firm and strong... but remain composed and
under control. Do not let your emotions get the best of you. Remember
is a planned/calculated response and not a venting session,” the
quoted organizers as telling participants in meeting minutes.
dated May 27, was released following a Freedom of Information Act
request by the
Jewish Federation of Orange County.
Salahi said the committee had relied
on evidence that was “inadequate and problematic,” but declined to
group’s challenge in detail. She said the decision, if sustained, would
Muslim students without an organization representing their interests.
really does have very lasting constitutional implications,” she said.
chilling effect for Muslims on campus and their right to associate.”AP
contributed to this report.