The University of California, Irvine, has reduced a year-long ban it placed on the Muslim Student Union (MSU) in June, prompted by a protest orchestrated by MSU students during a February speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren on campus.
The suspension was cut from a full year to the fall quarter after the MSU appealed. The group will also be placed on two years of probation and must complete 100 collective hours of community service.
Police arrested 11 students the night of the speech, eight from UC Irvine and three from UC Riverside, for disturbing a public event. Despite evidence from internal email exchanges within the group, including a "game plan" which details how the disruption would be carried out, MSU denied responsibility for the disruptions.
UCI's suspension followed an investigation into the planned disruption of a February speech on campus by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. The investigation found that MSU organized the disruptions in advance, and then lied about it to school administrators. MSU was found to have violated university conduct codes involving dishonesty, obstructing disciplinary procedures, disorderly conduct, "participation in a disturbance of the peace of unlawful assembly," said a May 27 letter from UCI Housing Senior Executive Director Lisa Cornish.
MSU still maintains that it did not sponsor the disruptions. Instead, MSU's attorney Reem Salahi claimed earlier this month that some group members participated in the protest, but they were deemed "guilty by association."
Rather than expressing relief about the reduced punishment, MSU members and representatives see the decision as an unjust defeat. Salahi called the decision a "disappointment" and Hadeer Soliman, MSU's incoming vice president, said members were "shocked and disappointed by the university's decision against MSU."
The Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the University of California, San Diego, expressed outraged over the decision. "We rightly recognize UCI administration's unwarranted methods as a draconian attempt to silence dissent in the UCI community as well as in the student bodies of other academic institutions," the MSA said in a statement posted on its website Monday.
MSU-UCI's website is advertising an event for October, called "MSU-UCI College Day 2010," despite the suspension.