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Coalition Letter_Support UCI MSU_For Press Release

Coalition Letter_Support UCI MSU_For Press Release

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Published by surasky
Joint letter condemning possible banning of UC Irvine Muslim Student Association for student protest against speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren. From Asian Law Caucus
Afghan-American Bar Association
American Muslims for Palestine
Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Arab Resource & Organizing Center
Center for Constitutional Rights
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
Council on American-Islamic Relations, California
Jewish Voice for Peace
Muslim Legal Fund of America
National Lawyers Guild
Sikh Coalition
South Asian Americans Leading Together
South Asian Bar Association – Northern California
Joint letter condemning possible banning of UC Irvine Muslim Student Association for student protest against speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren. From Asian Law Caucus
Afghan-American Bar Association
American Muslims for Palestine
Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Arab Resource & Organizing Center
Center for Constitutional Rights
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
Council on American-Islamic Relations, California
Jewish Voice for Peace
Muslim Legal Fund of America
National Lawyers Guild
Sikh Coalition
South Asian Americans Leading Together
South Asian Bar Association – Northern California

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Published by: surasky on Jul 23, 2010
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12/04/2013

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July 22, 2010Michael DrakeChancellor, University of California, IrvineThe Chancellor’s Office510 Aldrich HallIrvine, CA 92697E-mail:chancellor@uci.edu Fax: (949) 824-2087Manuel N. GómezVice-Chancellor, University of California, Irvine405 Aldrich HallIrvine, CA 92697Email:mngomez@uci.edu Fax: (949) 824-2763Re: Proposed Suspension of U.C. Irvine Muslim Student UnionDear Chancellor Drake and Vice-Chancellor Gómez:We, the undersigned civil rights organizations and professional bar associations from across theUnited States, write to express our strong condemnation of the recommended suspension of theU.C. Irvine Muslim Student Union (MSU) for allegedly coordinating the actions of the 10
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non-violent student protesters who interrupted Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s February 8, 2010 public speech with brief objections, before leaving voluntarily and peacefully. The MSU rejectsUCI’s factual determinations of its involvement with the protest, and is currently appealing the proposed ban; nonetheless, for the following reasons, we urge UCI abandon all efforts to suspendthe MSU.
The Proposed Ban Would Deprive Hundreds of Muslim Students of Their Fundamental First  Amendment Right to Association
The proposed suspension of the MSU would deprive hundreds of current and future Muslimstudents of their fundamental First Amendment right to association. UCI’s MSU has been inexistence for over 20 years, and has over 100 active members and approximately 250 registeredstudents. It organizes hundreds of events each year, most of which aim to nurture its members’spirituality through religious services, interfaith discussions, and charity work. Singling out theonly organization on campus dedicated to the issues and concerns of Muslim students not onlydevalues the Muslim community as a whole, but also evinces political and religiousdiscrimination on the part of UCI administrators.
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An eleventh student was arrested as he attempted to walk out of the lecture hall along with dozens of other individuals.
 
The presence of a Muslim Student Union on the UCI campus is particularly critical in the post-9/11 era. Following September 11
th
, Muslims in America have faced intensified hate crimes,violence, and discrimination, as well as racial, ethnic, and religious profiling by local and federallaw enforcement.
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FBI harassment and surveillance of Muslims in Irvine, including UCI MSUstudents, is well-documented; for example, in 2009, FBI informant Craig Monteilh confessed tosurveilling many local mosques and community groups.
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Many Muslims in the area havereported that they are afraid to attend mosques or community centers for fear of harassment,discrimination, or interrogation.
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This hostile environment makes the presence of a safe space oncampus for Muslim students all the more necessary. Disbanding the MSU, even temporarily,greatly exacerbates these larger harms and further stigmatizes the Muslim community. Even if another Muslim group is allowed to form to alleviate these concerns, banning the MSUnonetheless marginalizes this vulnerable community and brands them as perpetual outsiders.
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The Recommended Ban Is Unparalleled In Its Severity and Constitutes Selective Enforcement 
The MSU has consistently denied coordinating the Oren protest. However, even if UCI could prove otherwise, the recommendation to suspend the MSU is unparalleled in its severity. UCIcannot claim this recommendation is an application of neutral policies, given the lack of  precedent for the suspension of a University of California student group for something other thanhazing- or alcohol-related charges.
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These ten students are hardly the first to protest speakers onUniversity campuses; there have been countless campus protests of speakers, many of whichwere even officially sanctioned by student groups, none of which resulted in the types of sanctions here proposed. For example, at UCI in 2006, student protesters from groups such asStudents for Peace and Justice interrupted a Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellows Series speaker,Jagdish Bhagwati, to the point that he was unable to finish his remarks. However, no reprimandswere issued against any student groups or individuals for the disruption.
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Similarly, in 2001,College Republicans prevented Amir Abdel Malek Ali from speaking altogether at a UCI event.The protestors blocked the speaker from view, chanted so loudly that he could not continue hisspeech, and allegedly even took away the speaker’s microphone. None of these students werecited or reprimanded; to the contrary, UCI later hired one protester for an administrative position.
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Further, no investigation was conducted to determine whether the College Republicansgroup coordinated the disruption.
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2
http://www.asianlawcaucus.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/AACAJ_PFA-Brochure.pdf at pp. 20-25.http://www.aclu.org/files/pdfs/humanrights/cerd_finalreport.pdf.
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http://www.infocusnews.net/content/view/15942/135/.
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http://articles.latimes.com/2006/jun/07/local/me-muslim7.
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Banning the MSU will similarly deprive the broader UCI campus community of the services and contributions of this group. UCI’s MSU has a long history of public service and was recently honored by the Cross Cultural Center with the Social Justice Award for its advocacy work for the disadvantaged. The group also contributes a unique perspective on numerous high profile current events in Middle East politics. Limiting other students’ exposure tothese viewpoints disadvantages UCI students and stifles a very live debate on politics of the region.
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http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jun/15/local/la-me-0615-uci-muslim-20100615;http://www.muzzlewatch.com/2010/06/21/uc-irvines-muslim-student-union-possibly-suspended-for-1-year-for-israeli-ambassador-protest/.
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http://www.newuniversity.org/2006/05/news/globalization_critics_disrupt_cdf83/.
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GlPF7Jfl8Y; http://www.ocregister.com/articles/maclean-229288-recall-signatures.html?pic=2.
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There are numerous other examples of student groups and individual students protesting invited speakers. Another recent example occurred in 2005 when protesting students disrupted a speech delivered by John C. Yoo at U.C.Irvine. Students in the room repeatedly interrupted and heckled him, and students outside pounded so hard on the
 
 The harsh sanction under consideration here starkly contrasts these earlier protests, especiallygiven that, unlike the above examples, the 10 students did not prevent Oren from finishing hisspeech. Though the University may, under certain conditions, impose reasonable restrictions onthe time, place, and manner of protected speech, doing so in a non-content neutral fashion isunconstitutional.
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The decision to act against the MSU, while ignoring the behavior of other groups, targets the MSU because of the content of their speech, and as such is abhorrent to theConstitution. This blatantly disparate treatment, which is even more outrageous given the factthat the University took no action to investigate the clearly illegal behavior of many Orensupporters who yelled racial epithets and death threats at the individual protesters, sends amessage that UCI selectively censures particular political views, and cannot be understood asanything other than selective enforcement of campus policies.
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 This conclusion is only strengthened by the well-documented efforts of various powerful outsidegroups, all of whom oppose these students’ political views, to influence the sanctions metedout.
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Further, the clear political bias of various U.C. officials further evidences the lack of neutrality in adjudicating the charges against both the student protesters and the MSU. As U.C.President Mark Yudof admitted, “it is difficult for me to separate my public role as President of astate university from my private life as a Jewish man who is active in Jewish causes and a strongdefender of Israel.”
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The Ban Sets a Dangerous Precedent That Threatens All Student Groups
The proposed ban also sets an extremely dangerous precedent that affects all groups whose viewsare opposed by campus officials, outside groups, or that are beyond what the mainstream viewsas “acceptable.” Such action by the University will send a message that only certain types of speech, that favored by the administration, will be tolerated, and will be viewed by manystudents and student organizations as such. As Victor Sanchez, president of the University of California Student Association, stated, “[i]t’s almost impossible not to interpret [the ban of theMSU] as a means of the university to silence dissent.”
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This is especially frightening given thefact that the University of California is a public university.Therefore, these punitive measures against the MSU should be abandoned immediately. Takingthe unprecedented step to ban this group will memorialize UCI as a campus that violates itsstudents’ constitutional rights, and will have negative repercussions that will reverberate aroundthe country. Such a decision would amount to selective punishment of a group whose ideas are
glass window of the room that Yoo was “barely audible.” The protesters were merely escorted outside by university police, and none were penalized. http://www.ocweekly.com/2005-02-10/news/f-yoo.
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Ward v. Rock against Racism
, 491 U.S. 781, 791 (1989);
Turner Broad. Sys. v. F.C.C.
, 512 U.S. 622, 643 (1994).
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For other examples,
 see
http://canuckmediamonitor.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=60.
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It is well known that representatives of various pro-Israeli organizations spoke at length with U.C. President Mark Yudof to discuss the sanctions against the MSU. The Jewish Federation – Orange County also admitted that it wasworking “intensely” with local, national, and international leadership to punish the student protesters for engaging inan absolutely typical campus protest. The Zionist Organization of America has similarly attempted to influenceUCI’s decision in favor of harsh punishment by calling for academic and financial boycotts of UCI.http://ocjewishexperience.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/oc-community-leaders-visit-mark-yudof/;http://jta.org/news/article/2010/02/16/1010652/zoa-calls-for-funding-freeze-to-irvine.
13
http://www.infocusnews.net/content/view/35749/1031/.
14
http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jun/15/local/la-me-0615-uci-muslim-20100615/2.
 

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