Current and former members of UC Irvine's Muslim Student Union, which has been suspended for a year in connection with the repeated disruptions of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's campus speech in February, say the university disciplinary action was too harsh.
They further add the suspension--which MSU is appealing on grounds it did not organize the protest that resulted in 11 arrests--overlooks the 20-year-old group's religious and charitable endeavors.
The Los Angeles Times has the scoop.
"There were so many things that we tried to do as an organization," Omar Zarka, who was MSU president from 2007-09, tells the Times' Raja Abdulrahim. "It's really sad that it would get sidelined by something like this."
Talk about separate realities: the defense from Zarka and other MSU members comes hot on the heels of national Jewish groups alleging the University of California has been too weak in its reaction to acts of anti-Semitism on its campuses.
Including UCI, of course.
The Times piece talks of housing assistance, hurricane relief and other humanitarian activities--the things MSU's defenders say the group should be known rather than the Oren incident, clashes with Jewish students and hosting those notorious "Israel Apartheid" speakers.
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The latter, claim the MSU loyalists, are only a small part of what members do.
Old-timers claim the MSU was less political, more social and religious back in the day. As with just about everything else, that all changed after 9/11.
Abdulrahim ends his piece by noting MSU this year received the UCI Cross-Cultural Center's social justice award for tackling and raising awareness of injustice.
Based on submissions reviewed by a panel of students, faculty and staff, the honor was bestowed a week after the university recommended MSU's suspension.