Three Jewish students urged undergraduate government officers Tuesday to issue public apologies, reach out to the Jewish community and co-sponsor a resolution decrying anti-Semitism in response to controversial comments about a Jewish student’s appointment at last week’s meeting.
Members of the Undergraduate Students Association Council unanimously appointed Rachel Beyda, a second-year economics student, to the Judicial Board last week after about 40 minutes of deliberation.
General Representative 3 Fabienne Roth, General Representative 1 Manjot Singh, Transfer Student Representative Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed and General Representative 2 Sofia Moreno Haq argued that Beyda’s affiliation with the Jewish community on campus could constitute a conflict of interest in cases the Judicial Board might rule on.
The board is the student-run judicial branch of the student government and hears cases on violations of USAC’s governing documents. USAC President Avinoam Baral nominated Beyda for the position, and the Appointment Review Committee approved Beyda with a 3-0-0 vote.
On Tuesday, three students from Hillel at UCLA made specific demands from Roth, Singh, Sadeghi-Movahed, Haq, and External Vice President Conrad Contreras whose proxy representative also voiced concern over Beyda’s affiliations at the Feb. 10 council meeting.
Yael Glouberman, a third-year communication studies student and a representative on the Hillel at UCLA student board, said she thinks the comments made about Beyda’s qualifications to serve on the Judicial Board were hurtful, discriminatory and anti-Semitic.
“When you assumed that the Jewish community has certain political affiliations, not only are you not doing your job as representatives of all students, but you’re discriminating against your own constituents,” Glouberman said
Last year, the Judicial Board ruled on a contentious case against councilmembers who voted on a divestment resolution after taking free trips to Israel while in office. Out of nine cases posted on the Judicial Board website since 2007, only last year’s case involved divestment or Israel.
Council voted twice on Beyda’s appointment at last week’s meeting. The first vote was dismissed after the votes were split down the middle.
After USAC Administrative Representative Debra Geller and Alumni Representative Laureen Lazarovici brought up concerns of discrimination against Beyda, the council voted unanimously to approve her appointment to the Judicial Board.
Following Tuesday’s meeting the councilmembers who opposed Beyda’s appointment said they were sorry they offended members of the Jewish community.
“I feel like the way the meeting happened and the way my words were interpreted were offensive and that’s out of my moral compass to offend any community,” Sadeghi-Movahed said.
The Jewish students at Tuesday’s meeting asked for Roth, Singh, Sadeghi-Movahed and Haq to issue a public apology in the Daily Bruin, and asked Contreras to denounce the comments his proxy made and apologize on his behalf.
Elyssa Schlossberg, a fourth-year psychobiology student and member of the Hillel at UCLA student board, said she thinks the councilmembers need to be educated about what constitutes anti-Semitism.
“I hope by now you know that the logic regarding Jews and their divided loyalties mirrors the same ideologies used in Nazi Germany to deny Jews government jobs,” Schlossberg said. “Although we would never suggest that your statements are on par with these notorious anti-Semites, we want to be clear that it is a slippery slope.”
The students also demanded the councilmembers take steps to mend their relationship with the UCLA Jewish community by attending Jewish student-led events, learning about the history and culture of Jewish students and being educated on the historical roots of anti-Semitism, said Natalie Charney, a fourth-year global studies student and one of the Hillel student board members.
“Hearing those words is so sad and so bad,” Roth said. “I can’t believe I said that. … I’ll be taking very seriously what the Jewish community wants from me.”
The students finally requested that the councilmembers who spoke against and initially voted against Beyda to co-sponsor a resolution against all forms of anti-Semitism.
They said the Jewish community is currently working on the language of the resolution and will bring it to council to vote on at next week’s meeting.