June 14th, 2010
In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
UC IRVINE MSU APPEALS RECOMMENDATION TO SUSPEND MSU
(Irvine, CA – 6/14/10) — The Muslim Student Union (MSU) at the University of California, Irvine, announced today that it has filed an appeal to the recommendation by the Senior Executive Director of Student Housing to revoke the student group’s charter for one year, following allegations that the MSU violated sections of University policy.
The allegations arose as a result of the appearance of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren for a UCI-sponsored event in February. During the event, seven UC Irvine students stood up and protested against inhumane Israeli policies, which deprive Palestinians of their human rights. The University alleged that the students actions were an officially sanctioned MSU activity, which the MSU has repeatedly denied. The students acted in their personal capacity.
“Suspending the MSU would undoubtedly create a chilling effect and deprive Muslim students — both current and incoming — of a place where they can develop a sense of community with one another and with the broader UCI campus community,” said incoming MSU President Asaad Traina. “Depriving Muslim students a venue to associate jeopardizes their rights under the First Amendment and is an act of marginalization at a time when Muslim students and Muslim youth already feel besieged.”
Contrary to news reports and statements made by the Jewish Federation of Orange County, the Office of Student Conduct has not officially suspended the MSU, but made an initial recommendation that is pending appeal by the Muslim Student Union. According to University policy, the Office of Student Conduct cannot make a unilateral informal determination to suspend organizations on campus. The MSU recently submitted its appeal.
The recommendation to suspend the MSU as a registered student organization for one year came as a shock to the student group, which was recently presented with the Social Justice Award by the UCI Cross Cultural Center, a group of active and socially conscious student organizations. From humanitarian and educational events to events that encourage social justice and youth outreach, the MSU’s multifaceted activities encourage spirituality among its members and create well-rounded individuals who are active participants of the UCI community. Among other activities, the MSU raised $5,000 earlier this year for the people of Haiti following the devastating earthquake.
Despite their vibrant and contributing role in the campus community, the MSU and its members have repeatedly been targeted and singled out by the administration for monitoring and punitive actions, and been subjected to hateful and threatening verbal and email attacks by off-campus entities.
Even UC Irvine faculty members who disagreed with the students’ actions have argued that suspending the MSU would be unnecessary, unfair, and overly harsh.
Dean of the UCI Law School Erwin Chemerinsky wrote in the Los Angeles Times that he “disagree[s] with those who call for draconian sanctions against these students or of punishment for a larger group.” When asked by the Orange County Register whether the Muslim Student Union would be disciplined, the director of UCI Media Relations also said she “would find it highly surprising if that was happening.”
The UC Irvine MSU aims to provide a space for Muslim students to engage in religious study, public education and community service alongside other student groups on campus. As a recognized student group, the MSU strives to be a positive addition to the UCI campus as well as the larger community.