Fair Speech

UNIVERSITY ISSUES: The suspension of the Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine is a reasonable response to the disruptive acts on campus.

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Although this independent student newspaper inherently cherishes the freedom of speech, even we know when a line has been crossed. As many may remember, the disruptions by some members of the Muslim Student Union (MSU) during a guest speaker's presentation at UC Irvine did indeed go too far.

The incident, which occurred in February, has resurfaced since the campus decided to reduce the student group's ban from one year to one quarter on campus. This adjusted suspension is reasonable: It allows students to regroup in the spring while still holding the MSU accountable for those who systematically prevented Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren from completing his scheduled speech.

The intent to protest was not the problem. There would have been no controversy if the MSU had picketed outside the event, but their actual disruption no longer could be categorized as an act of free speech.

No student group, regardless of politics, should be allowed to infringe upon another's ability to speak. All university campuses ideally serve as channels of safe and open discourse. As the UC Policy on Speech and Advocacy states, "activities must not interfere with the University's obligation to protect rights to teach, study, and fully exchange ideas."

Banning the entire student union may seem harsh, especially since only a handful of students were implicated in the disruptions. However, we must point out that the MSU did not denounce the actions of their members at the ambassador's speech.By doing this, they chose to face the repercussions as a collective group.

While banning the MSU for a quarter is fair, the original suspension for a year indicates that campus officials were too hasty and harsh in their initial findings. The campus should be more consistent in similar situations instead of appearing to soften their stance more than two months after the first suspension.

We hope that the quarter suspension will not cause too many negative cultural effects for Muslim students who want to work as a community. At the same time, let this incident serve as warning for all UC student protesters to be respectful and appropriate in any future efforts.

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