UCI Kangaroo Court turns down MSU appeal

by

from OccupyUCI:

UCI upheld the suspension of the Muslim Student Union despite appeals, though the term was reduced from a full year to one quarter.  This came after months of political pressure from special interest groups external to UCI who want to see a major battleground over support for Israel and Palestine pacified (but with Israel coming out on top).

Of course, I’m sure this had nothing to do with the religion/ethnicity of the students involved, UCI’s overt support for Zionism, and a broader campaign to criminalize dissent on the UCI campus.  These “findings” are not at all related to the 28 students at UCI and 200+ state-wide facing conduct charges for minor protest-related infractions if not just vocalization of opposition.  /sarcasm

The Office of Student Affairs, under outgoing Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez, sent out an email to the entire campus, wasting scarce university resources to further demonize the Muslim Student Union and sew Islamophobia in the UCI community.  Gomez, who claims to have once “flown the black flag,” now apparently lives by the mantra: “But now I’m older and wiser, and that’s why I’m turning you in.”  Here’s the email:

The Muslim Student Union (MSU) at UC Irvine received notice this week of the outcome of the appeals process following disciplinary measures imposed last spring resulting from the group’s disruption of a campus speaker and other violations of the campus code of conduct.

The MSU had appealed the decision, recommended after an in-depth adjudication process undertaken by the Office of Student Affairs that found that the group’s actions surrounding the February 8, 2010 speech on campus by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren had violated campus code of conduct policies.

After an additional two-month process that included meetings with officers of the MSU as well as the careful review of new evidence, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Manuel Gomez affirmed that the MSU violated the campus code of conduct, and imposed the following sanctions:

The organization is suspended through December 31, 2010 and must complete a collective 100 hours of community service at which time they can request reinstatement. Following this, the organization will be placed on probation for two years.  The organization’s leaders will meet monthly with the Director of Student Conduct for one year.

This process has been exhaustive and detailed. The sanctions described above reflect the need for appropriate discipline following the violations of campus policy, while recognizing the role of the University in educating students in and outside of the classroom.

The sanctions described herein apply to the organization as a whole, and do not address disciplinary processes for individuals in this incident. Under federal law the University is prohibited from releasing information on individual student disciplinary matters.

“This has been a difficult decision,” said Gomez.  “But in the end, this process demonstrates the University of California Irvine’s commitment to values, principles and tolerance.  Although this has been a challenging experience for all involved, I am confident that we will continue to move forward as a stronger, more respectful university community.”

MSU responded, but without the resources of a State institution, they obviously lack the resources to counter the administration’s propaganda.

For the past eight months, the Muslim Student Union (MSU) has struggled with the University of California, Irvine, to treat the incident in February as a campus matter. During this time, our student members, some as young as 18, have endured hate mail and personal attacks both privately and publicly. Using the February event as an excuse, external organizations have created an unwarranted climate of fear and socio-religious bigotry against Muslim students at UC Irvine.  In this same period, we are witnessing an unprecedented level of anti-Muslim sentiment, which has evolved into an Islamophobic hysteria currently gripping our society.

We had sincerely hoped that by cooperating with the University and putting our faith in the impartiality of its Administrative review, the MSU would be vindicated of the charges against it.  Today, we are shocked and disappointed by the University’s decision against the MSU. UCI Administrators are sending the wrong message at the wrong time in our shared American history. Based on the actions of specific members acting outside their organizational capacity, the Administration has chosen to punish the entire Muslim Student Union, and by proxy the whole of the student body at UCI.  In doing so, the Administration has missed an important opportunity to take a stand against a growing movement of religious and cultural discrimination of American Muslims that is becoming more acceptable in our communities.

Even more disturbing, our numerous campus allies who have worked with us on our relief efforts including the Haiti Quake Fundraisers, Inter-faith dialogue projects and various festivities organized by the school will be deprived of an important voice, resource and friend.  These are not Muslim groups, but include our Black, Latino, Jewish, and Christian partners and allies who we work with, and study and learn from every day.

The University justifies its decision to suspend the MSU based on the participation of some of our former officers, giving the “appearance of MSU sponsorship.” The decision fails to consider the facts and the motivations of students who continue to maintain that the organization is not at fault and that the actions of a few should not result in the collective punishment of all.  The end result of this harsh decision is the reality that for the next few months the entire MSU membership, including incoming students and alumni, is deprived of their ability to freely associate with a club that caters to their religious, social, and cultural needs.  And for the next few years, Muslim students will be stigmatized by an omnipresent probation, which those who bear ill will towards the Muslim students at UCI will undoubtedly try to manipulate.

Our experience in this entire ordeal has led us to speculate that perhaps the sanctions are less about protesting and more about who is allegedly behind the protest. The sanctions against the MSU are unprecedented and create a dangerous chilling effect for all students at American universities.

We ask the University Administration to address an important omission in its sanction letter.  The Administration must take important and necessary steps to ensure the protection of its students and organizations from external attacks and scrutiny and collaborate with its student body to continue a dialogue that is befitting our University. Universities cannot expose campus organizations and students to the political ambitions and motivations of special interest groups and above all must protect our privacy and educational interests.

To our fellow University students of all faiths and backgrounds: we hope that you will continue to work with us to stop the damage outside groups attempt to bring to our campus.  Throughout this coming academic year, we look forward to continuing our collaborations along religious, cultural, economic and social lines to show that we are one unified voice against intolerance, oppression and hate; wherever and by whomever it manifests.

The attack on MSU is an attack on all students; it is part of the administration’s tactic to divide and conquer our community while they continue to act corruptly, in total complicity.

And if we want to talk about punishing the behavior of individuals associated with UCI, we could maybe start with Donald Bren or Henry Samueli.

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