It should be pointed out that had it not been for the highly publicized disruption of the Ambassador Oren event, it is unlikely that community members would have been made aware of the depth of anti-Semitism and harassment of pro Israel students which existed at U C Irvine for nearly 10 years. In our opinion, those problems were persistently downplayed by the Jewish Federation of Orange County. (OCITF)
UCI Upholds Suspension of Muslim Student Union
A Special Message from President and CEO, Shalom C. Elcott
Earlier today, Jewish Federation & Family Services received notice that UC Irvine has rejected the Muslim Student Union’s appeal, and has followed through on its initial decision to suspend the MSU.
In the letter to MSU outlining the university’s decision, Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez reaffirmed that the MSU cannot abuse student conduct and campus policies. He stated to the MSU, “By making it impossible for Ambassador Oren to exercise his speech rights during his presentation, you effectively deprived him of his rights…Further, your actions exceeded the protections of both the First Amendment and campus policies, which provide for appropriate time, place and manner restrictions on speech.” He also added, “The University respects the MSU’s right to protest, but there were other ways to do so that would not have deprived Ambassador Oren of his right to speak, would not have deprived the audience of its right to hear and engage in an exchange with Ambassador Oren, would not have disrupted a University-sponsored event, and would not have made other audience members an “involuntary audience” to your disruptive actions (UCI Campus Policy 30.30) .” Gomez concluded, “This decision, in response to your appeal, is final and may not be appealed any further.”
Ultimately, the precedent-setting suspension was upheld. The UCI document obtained by Jewish Federation & Family Services stated that “the MSU violated the following policies: Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures or other university activities.” The student judicial review process worked.
While we are disappointed that the length of the suspension was shortened, it is not our place to determine the length nor the severity of the punishment. The only way we will know that this decision has been effective will be if a systemic change occurs in the actions and conduct of the MSU, and if the MSU turns to more thoughtful dialogue that befits a university campus.
Jewish Federation & Family Services has been at the forefront of a community-wide effort to make UCI a hate-free zone for all students. This includes ongoing meetings with campus faculty and staff, meetings with UC Regents, University of California President Mark G. Yudof as well as ongoing discussions with members of Congress. Additionally, the Federation has held continuous meetings with students and key community leaders.
We will continue working closely with university leadership to encourage bridge-building programs between Muslim and Jewish students and students of other faiths. Toward this objective, we established the Rose Project in 2008, which provides funding for positive Jewish programming and support to the Jewish students of Orange County college campuses. Student leaders of Anteaters for Israel, Hillel: Jewish Student Union, Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, and Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority take advantage of many leadership development and Israel education opportunities funded by the Rose Project throughout the academic year. Other endeavors of The Rose Project include the development of a high-level special guest lecture series and bridge-building programs in the greater Orange County community.
Many organizations and individuals from around the world have supported us in this difficult process. To all, and particularly to the generous investors who support the Rose Project, our profound thanks.
Our best wishes to you for this Labor Day weekend!
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