UC Irvine or UC Intifada?
Bruce Blumberg, who is the chair of the Academic Senate Council on Student Experience at the University of California-Irvine, wasn't happy about a recent PJM article I co-wrote with Jonathan Movroydis. In the piece, we make the claim that UCI administrators have capitulated to the university's radical Muslim Student Union (MSU), whose members regularly voice support for terrorist groups and denounce America and Israel.
In an email posted by Jerry Pournelle, Blumberg writes that "no one" in the "media or on campus" is aware of the inaction on the part of the administration and the UCI Police Department that is alleged in the article. It appears that Blumberg, like most of the UCI faculty and administration, will never come the defense of students who can think for themselves, will stand up for their civil liberties, and won't flock with the rest of the sheep.
During the academic year at UCI, the MSU holds several hateful events, including an annual anti-Israel week. Although MSU events certainly fall within the bounds of "free speech," freedom of speech and expression does not include the right of MSU members to engage in blatant harassment. Nor should it enable UCI administrators to restrict the freedoms of other individuals at the university campus.
For example, student journalist Jonathan Movroydis and his brother were harassed out of an auditorium for simply recording a lecture by the radical imam Amir Abdel Malik-Ali in 2007. University officials allowed for members of the MSU to police their own event and allowed the group to prohibit filming at a public university event. Fortunately, California Assemblyman Chuck Devore was able to convince UCI Chancellor Michael Drake to reverse the campus taping policy. The administration, however, has been unwilling to fully enforce this new rule.
Moreover, UC Irvine police officers will stand idly while intimidation occurs, and administrators continue efforts to censor certain groups and people on the campus. I learned this firsthand last year, when I had a camera shoved in my face by a member of the MSU. At the scene a police officer refused to take a statement from me. Because I was appalled and could not believe that shoving a camera in someone's face would be considered lawful behavior, I could not let such a matter fall. After several phone calls and e-mails, I was finally able to schedule a meeting with Dean of Judicial Affairs Edgar Dormitorio, and given the opportunity to file a complaint with the police department on campus. I had the perpetrator's face on camera and witnesses. However, no action has yet been taken against the student.
While I studied at UCI, I witnessed an affirmative action bake sale being shut down by administrators. Because a group of students wanted to sell cupcakes at different suggested prices for various racial groups in order to demonstrate what they felt were the injustices of affirmative action, the administration decided to completely shut down the event for what appeared to be "sensitivity" issues. Regardless of one's position on affirmative action, it is outrageous that one's view on a college campus, which so often promotes itself as the marketplace of different ideas, would be restricted by the administration.
Interestingly enough, when the Muslim Student Union brings speakers who have called for genocidal actions against Jews and Israelis, the administration refuses to speak out against this blatant hate speech. MSU's right to free speech does not require the administration to be silent when the group's members call for the destruction of Israel and threaten students who are Israel supporters . At the very least, administrators should uphold the rights of all students and make certain that individuals have the right to film and protest. The university should refrain from selective enforcement of its rules and regulations.
Thus far the administration at UCI has been extremely negligent. An independent task force investigation recently issued findings that clearly suggest anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and pro-terror speech is well documented at UC Irvine. The full report can be read here.
According to this independent investigation, harassment and intimidation has occurred on campus and the administration has not worked to alleviate the problems that plague the campus. Instead, the administration's lack of response and selective enforcement of policy has aided groups like the MSU in vilifying other students and groups.
For instance, when an anti-hate rally took place after a cardboard "apartheid wall" put up on campus by the MSU was vandalized in 2004, Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez refused to invite Jewish organizations. In a more recent incident, a non-Jewish student described the atmosphere at UCI as dominated by a philosophy that looks at the United States and Israel as enemies, while supporting terror organizations. The same student had a professor who had a picture of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on her computer. She also recounts an argument with an Iranian student who said "f- Israel" and pulled down his trousers to show his swastika tattoo.
In his email, Blumberg implies that the situation at UCI is a "pro-Israel" and "pro-Palestine" issue with mistreatment on both sides. With all due respect to Dr. Blumberg, he has got to venture outside his office a bit more. If the Academic Senate Council really supports the freedoms of all students and believes that UCI is truly a beacon of "free speech," they are doing a poor job of showing it. They could learn a thing or two from Democratic Representative Brad Sherman, who recently urged Chancellor Drake to "publicly denounce" the MSU's hate speech.
As a recent alumnus of the university, I will continue to advise my friends and family members not to attend UC Irvine unless changes are made.
Editor's Note: Mr. Blumberg declined a Pajamas Media invitation to respond to Ms. Cohen's previous piece.