(taken from oc register):
IRVINE – Campus officials at UCI have banned the Muslim Student Union for one year and placed the organization on disciplinary probation for an additional year, according to a statement released by the Jewish Federation Monday morning.
Federation officials say they obtained documents from the university through the Freedom of Information Act, which show that the Muslim Student Union has been suspended on campus effective Sept. 1.
In what many say is an unprecedented act, the suspension is the result of a months-long internal review by the university following the arrest of 11 union students during Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech on campus. Oren was repeatedly interrupted by the union members.
The students have appealed the decision, according to Husam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Their attorney, Reem Salahi, said based on her understanding of the university’s policies and procedures, what has been issued is not a “ban,” but only a recommendation.
“That said, I don’t agree with their actions at all,” she said. “This is nothing but collective punishment. All Muslim students on campus have been punished for the actions of a few.”
So far, UCI has not released any information about this ban and does not plan on doing so, said Cathy Lawhon, director of media relations.
“I do not have personal knowledge of this, as the process and the actions against the students and the group were privileged,” she said. “We value the privacy of our students and the process. This is a private and privileged process, and we will honor that process.”
Although other individuals and groups might discuss this issue, the university will not, Lawhon said.
A May 27 letter sent to the Muslim Student Union by Lisa Cornish, senior executive director of Student Housing, which was also copied to Dean of Students Rameen Talesh, details the violations that were believed to have been committed by the union and the disciplinary action taken against them. This document was obtained and provided to The Orange County Register by the Jewish Federation.
Cornish’s letter says the university’s decision to suspend the union was based on Google Group e-mails, personal observations by university officials including the police chief, observations by other students and “the fact that all of the disruptors retained the same attorney to represent them in the student conduct process.”
Cornish’s letter talks about how the Muslim Student Union held a meeting Feb. 3 prior to the ambassador’s visit and methodically discussed how to disrupt the event. The students talked about sending “the speaker a message – our goal should be that he knows that he can’t just go to a campus and say whatever he wants” and “pushing the envelope.”
They even voted on one method of action and said, “We all go through with this together insha Allah ta’ala, together as one MSU.”
Cornish’s letter states that the students planned every detail of the disruption including scripting statements.
The letter also goes into detail about what each one of the disruptors yelled out during Oren’s speech.
Cornish says in the letter that she has concluded based on her review that the Muslim Student Union and each of its authorized signers violated several university policies including “disorderly and lewd conduct, participation in a disturbance of peace or unlawful assembly, obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures or other University activities and other forms of dishonesty including … fabricating information, furnishing false information, or reporting a false emergency to the University.”
The letter orders the Muslim student union to cease operations from Sept. 1, a suspension that will be active until Aug. 31, 2011. After that date, the group will be placed on “disciplinary probation” for one more year. Any misconduct during that period could result in further action against the group or its members, Cornish’s letter states. Also, group members must collectively complete 50 hours of community service, which also needs to be approved by the university.
Ayloush said he is disappointed by The Jewish Federation’s decision to release information that was meant to be confidential.
“I’m puzzled at their attempt to score political points at the expense of the privacy of the students and the process that is internal to UCI,” he said.