Assemblyman DeVore seeks ban of Muslim Student Union from UC Irvine

IRVINE — Assemblyman Chuck DeVore sent a letter to UC Irvine's chancellor asking him to ban the Muslim Student Union from campus following several of the group members' arrests while disrupting a speech by Israel's ambassador to the United States.

DeVore, R-Irvine, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., also accused the Muslim Student Union of "passing the hat'' for Hamas at a fundraiser for the "terrorist organization'' last year.

"It's time to ban this organization from campus,'' DeVore said. "It's not contributing anything of value to the campus.''

DeVore's letter to UCI Chancellor Michael Drake requesting the ban of the Muslim Student Union follows the arrest of 11 students after allegedly disrupting a Feb. 8 speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at the campus.

UCI Media Relations Director Cathy Lawhon said the university's response to DeVore's letter is that UCI officials are considering the allegations against the 11 students and the Muslim Student Union. The students and organization face a range of discipline from a warning to expulsion, but it is
not known when officials will decide on punishment, Lawhon said.

The university is also still investigating the Muslim Student Union's fundraiser last year that critics say benefited Hamas.

The university has been roiled by cries of anti-Semitism over the past several years when the Muslim Student Union booked pro-Palestinian speakers critical of Israel. DeVore has long criticized the group, even going to one of its events with a video camera to challenge a campus policy prohibiting
videotaping campus events.

Hadeer Soliman, a spokesman for the Muslim Student Union, said in an e-mail interview last week that "a few'' of the arrested students were members of the organization and that the group is "being implicated under a `guilt by association' theory.''

Soliman could not be reached immediately to respond to DeVore's call the ban the group.

UCI Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a noted constitutional scholar, defended the arrests in a commentary last week in the Los Angeles Times, but also disagreed with "those who call for draconian sanctions against these students or of punishment for a larger group. Only the students who were actually disruptive should be punished.''

None of the 11 students who were arrested have been charged, according to court records.