Wednesday, April 24

USAC removes video of controversial meeting on Judicial Board appointee

Four councilmembers questioned a Judicial Board appointment because of the applicant's affiliation with the Jewish community on campus. A few weeks later, the recording of that meeting was removed from YouTube because of alleged death threats to councilmembers. (Daniel Alcazar/Daily Bruin)

Four councilmembers questioned a Judicial Board appointment because of the applicant's affiliation with the Jewish community on campus. A few weeks later, the recording of that meeting was removed from YouTube because of alleged death threats to councilmembers. (Daniel Alcazar/Daily Bruin)

This post was updated on March 10 at 11:59 p.m.

The undergraduate student government recently took down a YouTube video of a controversial council meeting after several councilmembers received death threats and hate mail accusing them of being anti-Semitic.

On Feb. 10, several members of the Undergraduate Students Association Council raised concerns about the appointment of Jewish student Rachel Beyda to the USAC Judicial Board, saying they were unsure she could rule fairly on cases related to UCLA’s Jewish community and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Though Beyda, a second-year economics student, was unanimously appointed to the board after some discussion, USAC General Representative 1 Manjot Singh, General Representative 2 Sofia Moreno Haq, General Representative 3 Fabienne Roth and Transfer Student Representative Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed have gained attention from national news outlets and criticism from numerous individuals who say their line of questioning was anti-Semitic and discriminatory.

USAC voted 8-1-3 to put the video back up at its meeting on March 10.

This was the first USAC Live! video that USAC members have removed since the creation of the channel last year. The Internal Vice President’s office created the USAC Live! YouTube channel as a way to make meetings more accessible to students who could not attend on Tuesday nights and to increase transparency of USAC. USAC archives all of the videos and currently has no official policy on when videos must be removed.

USAC Internal Vice President Heather Hourdequin said she changed the video’s privacy settings after she consulted administrators about concerns over councilmembers’ safety. Hourdequin said she removed the entire video instead of just the footage of the questioning because she wasn’t sure how to edit it.

“All councilmembers need to be transparent and vocal about their opinions on the council table, but above all else, we are students and we are people,” Hourdequin said. “We shouldn’t be afraid of walking home and someone hurting us.”

After a student received death threats in response to her words at a controversial divestment-related meeting last year, the Daily Bruin took down a short portion of its footage. The student was not a councilmember and spoke during “good and welfare” at the end of the nearly 12-hour meeting.

Hourdequin said administrators told her they think this incident set a precedent for making all of the Feb. 10 footage private.

Haq said the hate mail she received in response to her questioning at the meeting was so severe that she did not feel safe walking around campus.

Some of the people who sent messages to her identified themselves as donors who would cease donating to UCLA until she and other councilmembers resigned, she said. Most of the hate mail she received did not come with identification, and Haq said she would not be surprised if many of the messages were from UCLA students.

Sadeghi-Movahed said she also received death threats and rape threats in emails and that she has reported these threats to university police.

Other messages were sent to her email, Facebook and Twitter account. Some of these criticisms used hateful language, including expletives and pejoratives.

Most of the hate mail was from people outside the UCLA community, and she said she thinks they have come from all over the country.

“It’s to the point where this story has been so exaggerated that I’ve been dehumanized in a way that most people don’t think our apology was genuine,” Sadeghi-Movahed said. “I was okay with (the video) staying up to be quite honest, but it becomes an infringement on our safety when other outlets take it and manipulate it into a different narrative.”

Haq said she thinks that she and other councilmembers have been misrepresented by news outlets who did not reach out to them before publishing their names, and by Chancellor Gene Block, who issued a campuswide email calling councilmembers unfair without reaching out to them for explanations beforehand.

Singh said he also received death threats following the meeting. He said he has received hate mail using racist language in the past, but he had never been threatened before. He did not report the threats to UCPD.

Roth said she has also been threatened, but she could not disclose the nature or severity of all the threats because she has not read all of them. This is the first time she has received hate mail, she added.

Haq said this is also the first time she has received hate mail and that it has only gotten worse since the video was taken down. She did not address the USAC Live! video when reporting concerns for her safety and did not ask for it to be taken down, she added.

“It’s a lose-lose situation, really,” Haq said. “If you don’t take down the video, it’s just going to grow more and more. If you do take it down, people get angry.”

She added that she thinks the media attention on councilmembers criticized for questioning Beyda’s appointment is interfering with the council’s ability to focus on their work and other issues such as tuition hikes and higher education.

Hourdequin said she plans to discuss the video and USAC Live! bylaws at the next council meeting to determine whether procedural guidelines should be established for a video’s removal.

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Catherine Liberty Feliciano was a news reporter and a staff representative on the Daily Bruin Editorial Board. She wrote stories about Westwood, research and student life. She dabbled in video journalism and frequently wrote #ThrowbackThursday blogs. Feliciano was an assistant Opinion editor in the 2015-2016 school year.

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  • messy57

    Having seen the video of the meeting before it was taken down, I genuinely think it speaks for itself. Had the candidate been Hispanic, South Asian, East Asian or Black and was asked the same question, the councilmembers would have been attacked far worse.

  • Benjamin Gelbart

    Sometimes it just sucks being held accountable for things you say or do to people. I think the public have the right to question this said apology, because it did not apologize for marginalizing a student in the Jewish community. It just apologized for their choice of language. Playing the victim card in this circumstance is completely inappropriate.

  • David Harris

    Perhaps Haq should be asked if it were appropriate she receive the same question, i.e. “Being a Muslim, are you qualified…?” Yes, accountability is hard, council. Perhaps less focus on the response to your disgusting bigotry, and actual discussion of the bigotry itself? Just a thought.

  • Concerned Bruin

    First, I have to say that it is terrible that the four council-members have received hate mail and death threats. No matter how bad one’s previous actions, no one should be subject to such hatred and terror. THAT SAID, this article is extremely troubling. It turns the victimizers into the victims, and that is unacceptable. Representatives Singh, Haq, Roth, and Sadeghi-Movahed made anti-Semitic comments and engaged in an anti-Semitic discussion for FORTY MINUTES. They engaged in hateful speech and they need to own up to their actions. Based on this article, it is clear that none of the council-members actually understand what they did wrong.

    “It’s to the point where this story has been so exaggerated…”??? If the video were still up, and people could see the atrocious conversation transpire with their own eyes, they would clearly see that the media has portrayed these events accurately. The story speaks for itself. So to say that “[media] outlets take [the video] and manipulate it into a different narrative” shows just how genuine their apologies truly were. Yeah, but “the media attention on councilmembers criticized for questioning Beyda’s appointment is interfering with the council’s ability to focus on their work and other issues such as tuition hikes and higher education.” Apparently combatting the alarming rise of anti-Semitism on our campus as well as campuses across the United States is a distraction.

    The true victim here is Rachel Beyda, who had to endure an almost hour-long discussion, filled with centuries old anti-Semitic tropes, about whether her personal religious identity as a Jew should disqualify her from holding a position on the USA Judicial Board. However, this article artfully depicts the culprits of such hateful and ignorant speech as the victims. Shame on the Daily Bruin for posting such an insensitive, manipulative, and intellectually dishonest article.

    • DogOfDooM
    • Richard Smith

      “it is terrible that the four council-members have received hate mail and death threats”
      Good comment except for this. It is very likely that the hateful Jew-haters: 1) have received no death threats – if they did they should go to the police pronto; it is likely that, besides being purveyors of hate, they are also liars 2) call legitimate, argued criticism “hate mail” in order to elicit sympathy. Typical for this class of person.

  • Jenny Librero

    This story is past national, I am living in southern France and we know about it here. It is very disappointing to see such blatant antisemitism being condoned at such a well known university. Removing the video seems like an effort to cover up the discrimination and protect the perpetrators (not to mention that the full video is still available on the internet,
    It’s horrible that the students are facing such inexcusable vitriol, but perhaps both the university administration and the students themselves are not grasping the significance of what is occurring there or the seriousness with which it is being received by the international community. If in fact transparency was the motivation for publicly posting video archives of their meetings then it is troublesome that this be canceled out when the university and/or students find it more convenient to hide their own misdeeds then accept and address the unpleasant consequences they cause. Do the students feel that removing the video will effectively address the outrage that people feel watching it, or is it simply an attempt to dodge or delay accountability? Does “hiding the evidence” of their bigotry erase the wrongdoing that occurred, or is that very knee jerk reaction to deny culpability part of the mechanism that enables antisemitism to quietly flourish in the shadows?

  • EYJ

    I’m pretty sure this video was removed in order to hide all the evidence proving that these four students were and are anti-semetic. Now, they can say that their questions were not antii-semetic and no one can show “proof” of what happened during that meeting. The only reason this video has been removed is to shut down all the bad publicity the university has been getting. If the school and USAC was really concerned about student safety, they would have never even brought up resolutions that would target a certain group. e.g., BDS.

  • wills1111

    Pathetic—if these students claim they’ve been “misrepresented”, then why would they want the video removed? It’s preposterous to suggest that people who are subject to criticism for their statements are somehow “victims”. When one voluntarily enters the public square and runs for an elected office, there is every expectation that one will be subjected to unkind words. Obviously, any criminal actions should be investigated, but claiming to be “threatened” online does not give any elected official the right to censor coverage of their performance in office.

  • Jamie Krasnoo

    If the threats actually happened it is utterly reprehensible. However the video should have been left up as it now looks like Hourdequin and the council used these threats as an excuse to take it down because it is an embarrassment to it. The unintended effect of taking the video down is akin to sweeping this incident under the rug. This is a time for the council to address antisemitism both on the campus and within the council chambers itself. Safety of students on the campus should be a priority and that should include Jewish students as well. However both the Council and UCLA have been negligent in this area as Jewish students have expressed that they feel threatened, unsafe and have experienced harassment. This is even more prevalent when the SJP and MSA hold Israel Apartheid week on campus and the Council has done nothing about it. SJP and the MSA both should be defunded and booted off campus as hate organizations for their actions.

  • Reader20

    Here is one of those rare instances where Orwell’s 1984 does actually provide an apt analogy. The student government speakers contend that a complete and unedited – i.e., truthful – record of their guilessly bigoted speech is a “misrepresentation.” And the UCLA student government archivist is acting much like the Ministry of Truth in the novel, seeking to erase bad facts, i.e., elide the actual truth by “revising” available records.. Luckily, it is an entirely futile exercise, since we don’t actually live in Oceania and multiple copies of the video are available on the Internet. While that does not make the censorious intent any less egregious, it does make the exercise not only wrongful but utterly foolish.

    • Jenny Librero

      well stated

  • Satan Baalzvoov

    It is glaringly obvious that the four council representatives all miserably failed to absorb the message from their high school class in US Civics. When one fails a course, they are usually obliged to make up the credits in summer school. I suggest as a condition for them retaining their positions on the council they be obliged to sit through a remedial six-week summer school course in high school Civics. It may also provide them a much-needed lesson in common sense, which they clearly lack.

  • DogOfDooM

    The author of the article is obviously sympathetic to the offenders.

    The video in it’s entirety is available for viewing. No one is taking anything out of context. It is completely in context, there’s no confusion possible.

    “…Though Beyda, a second-year economics student, was unanimously appointed to the board after some discussion”

    Beyda’s appointment was initially rejected by vote based on her religion. After a faculty member intervened, A second vote was introduced and Beyda was approved.

    Ironically, the line of questioning indicates the members are interested in appointments that will vote according to their bias and not interested in dissent. You’re a Jew and your not with us.

    Not only is it Anti Semitic, it’s Un-American. These are the same cretins that started blacklisting.

    Move on petition for removal.

  • Mifty Popularis

    The councilmen said that they apologized for their Anti-Semitic actions, yet say they should have been consulted for an explanation before the news was reported and the Chancellor condemned their bias. Which is it? And agree with the other posters that it’s a lot of sour milk — if you are going to act in such a way, you should face the public shaming that goes with it. This will follow these students for life.

    • DogOfDooM

      The bulk of the article is about how bad their lives have become. They offer qualified apologies that deflect from their actions. The ignorance is astounding!

  • Richard Smith

    Cry me a river. The terrorists who call themselves “Palestinians” are treated WAY too humanely. They are the same kind of violent trash as ISIS and the like. The Arabs in Israel have more freedom than Arabs in the Arab countries sh*thol*s. No more attention should be paid to the fake “apartheid”. There are much worthier causes for people who care. There are truly innocent Africans and Kurds and North Koreans who suffer without wanting to murder anybody. “Palestinians” need to grow a conscience first, to stop begging for handouts, start working for a living, before begging for attention through their murderous behavior.

  • Richard Smith

    You can see the entire meeting here.

    Of course, the pro-terrorist infiltrators are lying as per what they were taught. There was no taking out of context, they said what they said, and what they said was terrible. They should not just resign from the board, they should have the decency to look for another school to pollute with their hate speech.

  • Jonas

    It kind of goes without saying, but what you wrote is BS. For starters, there are no Israeli settlements or “Jewish sidewalks” in Ramallah. In fact, Israeli citizens are not allowed in Ramallah.

    You’re a shining example of Internet Rule #1: Not everything you read on the internet is true.

    • robman012

      Denial of the truth even when witnessed…great. Simply denying my experience isnt a good argument. Its a waste of my time and not worth engagement

      • Jonas

        Anyone can verify that Israelis aren’t allowed in Ramallah. That is a fact. Showing how your “experience” is verifiably false isn’t a good argument?

        It’s disturbing that you could write all that while knowing it’s a lie. I think you need to seriously ask yourself whether your irrational hatred for Israel and/or Jews has blinded you and warped your reality.

      • Jamie Krasnoo

        You first say Ramallah then you edit your comment after someone suggests Hebron? Are you serious? I question your experience and your credibility.

  • Jamie Krasnoo

    In order for the word Apartheid to even apply the people being affected have to be citizens of the country perpetrating the attrocity. SJP’s use of the word is not only inaccurate, it’s malicious in intent. It trivializes and betrays the memory and the pain that black South African’s actually experienced during Apartheid. It’s a complete and utter slander towards Israel and it’s only use is to demonize and de-legitimize her existence.

    The settlements are completely legal and even if they weren’t there, you’d find something else to complain about. Before the settlements, there was violence and while they’re there there’s violence. That land is territory that was lost to Israel during the six day war, which is why it’s considered “disputed”.

    None of what you said that takes place in Ramallah is true. The IDF isn’t even in any of the cities that the “Palestinians” hold. They are very much Judenfrei as any Jew who finds themselves there unarmed and alone will be dispatched immediately.

    Your comments on water is a complete and utter lie. The “Palestinians” have directly breached the Oslo Accords MULTIPLE TIMES. There’s a $500 million dollar international fund for the “Palestinians” to develop new sources of water and build sewage treatment facilities and they have done NOTHING. Instead they have drilled over 300 unauthorized water wells and I’m pretty sure that has gone up since the report, as well as receiving more water from Israel than is required by the Accords. The “Palestinians” are not holding up their end of the bargain. The real fact is that the “Palestinians” have stolen water from Israel.

    If the “Palestinians” were to stop their nonsense their situation would improve over night. “Palestinians” prefer to work for Israeli businesses due to the fact that they pay better than “Palestinian” businesses, even though they won’t admit it publicly. When they weren’t throwing their two year old temper tantrum of wanting not just the West Bank but everything from the river to the sea, they were in excellent shape. After they started the tantrum, that’s when things went down hill. Israel has no obligation to coddle or help a people who want only one thing, the destruction of Israel, period. Yet, they do it anyways. Your account of things in Ramallah is a complete and utter fabrication.

  • Jenny Librero

    Yes, you are correct, you have EVERY right to protest anything you want to protest in the country of the United States, right along with KKK, Westboro Baptist Church and other widely despised hate groups . You do not, however, –, and please pay close attention here — have the right to BE FREE FROM THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS, particularly when those actions harm others or infringe upon their basic civil rights.

    Sadly, the students featured in this video got so wrapped up in their internalized hatred for the Jewish faith and the internalized stereotypes that go along with it that they attempted, on video, to deprive Rachel Beyda of her ability to participate on the school’s judicial board solely because of her religious identity. This is simply unacceptable, not to mention illegal in a state school (google California Education Code section 220).

    I won’t get into a debate with you weather apartheid week is discriminatory or not, though I would urge you to google South Africa’s Israel Apartheid Week, where the student representative council at Durban University of Technology just formally demanded that the university “expell all jewish students”. You may also be interested in the many photos of Hezbollah flags that appeared this week in Washington DC’s codepink pro-BDS gathering, or the disturbing instances of documented antisemitic attacks closely following BDS at other universities in the USA.

  • Honey Badger

    The person who wrote this article should be ashamed. These racists are NOT the victims here. And I couldn’t be happier that their bigotry and anti-Semitism is out in the open for all to see. Especially to future employers who google their names.

  • Paul G

    I called Chancellor Block’s office to express my concern over the matter of the antisemitism
    of the four Jboard members involved. It seems to me that two of the politically correct forms of racism
    are those involving the Judeo-Christian community. I am past my college years but I know World history
    very well. I read the transcript of the meeting and repeatedly watch the video. Lets not let this kind of history repeat itself time and time again. In the 1940′s The National Conference of Christians and Jews expressed its view that anitsemitism was a value for all Americans and not limited to a certain community.

  • truth hurts

    Oh my! The haters received hate mail. They were blatantly racist and are now playing the victim.

  • G-Wiz

    Excising a video record of the meeting takes a page out of Hilary Clinton’s playbook in adroitly avoiding accountability for misdeeds. (Think Benghazi or FundRaising directed @International Donors) Why are these detestable bigots allowed to continue in the student council …. diversity ?? Like the two sigma alpha students at Oklahoma University, these disgraceful 4 students should be summarily expelled and deported.

  • truth hurts

    Haq said she thinks that she and other councilmembers have been misrepresented by news outlets who did not reach out to them before publishing their names, and by Chancellor Gene Block, who issued a campuswide email calling councilmembers unfair without reaching out to them for explanations beforehand.

    So, she has been misrepresented by having her racist behavior put on display.

    I suppose that she thinks what she was doing was OK because it was just what her parents told her about the way they treated Yahud in the old country.

  • Reuven

    Seek and you shall find. The videotape of whole sordid incident can still be found on the Internet.