About 500 people in the University of California community have signed a petition that started on Sunday urging the UC Board of Regents to delay the appointment of former Undergraduate Students Association Council Internal Vice President Avi Oved as student regent-designate.
The petition, which has been signed by more than 140 UCLA students, was written in response to the Board of Regents’ letter to the UC Student Association sent on Wednesday in which the regents said they are planning to move on with the vote to confirm Oved despite student allegations against him of a conflict of interest and lack of transparency.
The UCSA Systemwide Affairs Committee voted on July 3 to recommend that Oved’s appointment be delayed until September. The vote followed allegations that Oved had received a campaign donation from Adam Milstein, a noted donor to many pro-Israel organizations, when Oved ran for and won the internal vice president seat in the May 2013 undergraduate student government election at UCLA. The USAC Election Code does not require candidates to disclose funding sources and it does not prohibit candidates from receiving outside donations.
A group of students wrote the petition because they were concerned that Oved had demonstrated a conflict of interest and a lack of religious tolerance, said Viveka Jagadeesan, a student at UC Berkeley who was part of the group that organized the petition.
Jagadeesan said Oved misled UCSA Board of Directors members, citing how Oved did not confirm or deny for several days whether he thanked Milstein for a donation after an email suggesting he did so was leaked in late June. In an interview with the Daily Bruin in early July, Oved said the email was for thanking Milstein for his donation to Hillel at UCLA.
Oved said he would not be able to comment on the petition until later because of academic obligations.
Taliah Mirmalek, a student at UC Berkeley who helped draft the petition, said she was concerned with Milstein’s tweets, calling them Islamophobic and bigoted.
She referred to a site organized by the Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA showing tweets by Milstein, including a tweet that celebrated Narendra Modi’s win in India’s election for prime minister and called Modi a “pro-Hindu anti-Muslim nationalist.”
Mirmalek said she thinks Oved should condemn such tweets and distance himself from Milstein and his views.
“How (is Oved) going to be the voice for all students if (he has) an intimate, financial relationship with an organization and individual specifically targeting Muslim students and those who stand in solidarity on campus?” Mirmalek said.
Milstein said his tweets were mainly criticizing radical Muslims, not the entire Muslim population. He said he thinks the vast majority of Muslims are very peaceful but that a lot of Islamic governments are ruled by radicals whom he thinks pose constant threats to Israel and the rest of the world and do not allow moderate Muslims to speak up.
“People don’t see the difference between Muslims and radical Muslims,” Milstein said. “My criticism is only toward people who promote the sharia law, war and killing. It’s very easy for my detractors to call me bigoted but I don’t see any substantiation (to the claim).”
Milstein said he supports organizations across the political spectrum and that he considers claims against him to be personal attacks.
A protest will be held at the UC Board of Regents meeting at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus on Wednesday morning to demonstrate against the regents moving forward with the vote to confirm Oved.