UC Irvine’s recent decision to recommend suspension of a Muslim student group for its alleged role in disrupting an Israeli diplomat’s speech has focused attention on the largely hidden world of student discipline and group punishment on college campuses.
The 1-year suspension, which the group is appealing, has raised questions about whether a university should penalize only individual students for behavior that violates rules of conduct, or if collective punishment is sometimes appropriate. And it has triggered debate about whether political pressure was a factor in the case.
The University of California has a long and difficult history of grappling with student protests, dating back to the tumultuous 1960s Free Speech Movement. Still, even as student rallies over higher fees have rocked UC campuses this year, it remains rare for a campus to sanction an entire student group in a civil disobedience case, experts say.