It seems the administration at the University of California-Irvine has some backbone after all.
Many people, and not just Jews in the Orange County community, have waited years for the UCI administration to take action against the campus Muslim Student Union. By bringing speakers to campus like Amir Abdel Malik Ali who consistently slander and demonize Jews (see here), advocate violence in the form of “civil disobedience,” and vocalize their support for terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, the MSU has long ago transgressed the boundaries of student conduct at UCI.
Now the UCI administration has suspended the organization.
In what is sure to become a landmark decision in the history of the campus’ Jewish-Muslim student tensions, the school decided to suspended the MSU for the 2010–2011 school year. According to a campus document, this means the school has entirely revoked its recognition of the organization. Not only that, but the same document states that no current MSU executive officer listed on the Dean of Students registration application form will be allowed to act in the way of an “authorized signer” for any other club on campus. The suspension takes effect from September 1 to August 31. They MSU is also required to collectively complete 50 hours of community service and is on disciplinary probation for an additional year.
For years, people have been lambasting the UCI administration for not having the spine to stand up to the MSU. So how did this happen?
Readers will recall the UCI incident on February 8, 2010, when Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren visited UCI to give a speech about U.S.-Israel relations. As soon as the speech started, an MSU member stood up and began shouting slogans at the ambassador. This disruption was repeated ten more times, executed by MSU members from UCI or UC Riverside — a clear sign that the entire incident was pre-planned. An investigation into this incident revealed the UCI MSU’s well-documented and organized plan to prevent Oren from being able to speak.
The resulting judicial reviews regarding the 11 disruptive MSU students will not be released by the university, and the students’ fates are protected by privacy laws. Unless the students decide to publicize this development (I would not be surprised; we’ve all seen how the MSU loves to play victim) or challenge the outcome, we will not be able to find out how the university has punished these individuals.
Every year, the MSU holds an anti-Israel week that negatively impacts the otherwise positive college experiences of Jewish students on campus. The Jewish leaders of the OC have received the MSU’s suspension with applause for the UCI administration’s bold if belated action.
Shalom Elcott, the president of the Jewish Federation of Orange County, said, “We commend the university for its judicious decision in support of free speech and civil discourse. The university’s disciplinary action regarding the MSU establishes an important and appropriate precedent and sends a powerful message to other universities across the nation.”
Jeff Margolis, co-chair of the Jewish Federation’s Rose Council, remarked that “UCI’s administration has done the right thing and is to be commended. We can all have faith in the American system because the results show how well it works. The Orange County Jewish Community will continue to bring positive education, programming and discussion to the UCI campus.”
Undoubtedly, these recent developments will have a severe impact on the 2010–2011 year, the tensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on campus, and the 2011–2012 year as well. No matter what happens though, you can be assured that many Jews the world over are responding to this news with a sigh of expression: “Finally.”