In just four weeks, an on-campus controversy about anti-Semitism has gone global.
On Thursday, The New York Times published an article recounting the Undergraduate Students Association Council Feb. 10 meeting, in which four councilmembers called into question Rachel Beyda’s ability to serve on the USAC Judicial Board because of her Jewish identity and her involvement with the Jewish community on campus.
Dozens of media outlets have since reported on the meeting and the ignorant comments of these four councilmembers, but what initially flew under the radar amid this national discussion was the council’s lack of transparency.
Some time between the conclusion of the Feb. 10 meeting and the publication of The New York Times piece, the archived stream of the meeting was taken down and now only exists as an edited YouTube clip. The four councilmembers said they received online threats since the meeting, and threats are indeed concerning for the councilmembers’ safety.
However, the video’s removal is still a serious breach of our student government’s promise of transparency to students and an error that should be reversed by USAC at its upcoming meeting.
This marks the first video that has been taken down by the channel’s administrators. USAC Internal Vice President Heather Hourdequin cited fellow councilmembers’ safety as a reason for removing the video.
The conversation surrounding the meeting has undoubtedly been vitriolic and threats to sitting councilmembers should neither be belittled nor ignored, but the removal of an entire video of a USAC council meeting with the click of a button sets a dangerous precedent for leaders who are responsible to a student electorate.
Last year, the Daily Bruin removed part of its recording of a controversial divestment meeting after a non-elected student at the council table received death threats for her emotional words in the good and welfare portion of the meeting. Hourdequin said USAC viewed this as precedent for taking down the Feb. 10 meeting video.
But the emotional behavior of the notetaker on council and the discriminatory remarks of the UCLA student body’s elected officials should not be conflated.
When councilmembers – whose emails, pictures and names are already public online – question a student based on her Jewish identity, there should be a record of it. It should not be hidden.
An anti-Semitic conversation played out at the USAC council table on Feb. 10. Ultimately, Beyda was appointed unanimously to her post on the Judicial Board, but several councilmembers failed in their responsibility to represent and work with a diverse student body. That should not be hidden and cannot be changed by simply removing the video documenting it.
Even these most serious errors and prejudices on the council table can be corrected through education. But it starts with councilmembers recognizing these mistakes through maintaining a complete and transparent record of the Feb. 10 meeting.