SAN FRANCISCO – The University of California Board of Regents approved former undergraduate student government councilmember Avi Oved as the new student regent-designate Wednesday, despite concerns from some students about his appointment.
Current Student Regent Sadia Saifuddin casted the only vote against Oved’s appointment, citing student concerns related to recent allegations against him of a conflict of interest and lack of transparency.
Regent Bonnie Reiss said that a student regent-designate’s selection should not rest solely on the student’s stance on a highly emotional and divided issue, and that everyone is entitled to the freedom of speech.
“I’m proud to support the selection of Oved. It’s my hope as a regent that together, (Oved and Saifuddin) can help bridge the divide,” Reiss said.
On Wednesday, the regents also said they support Oved because he was one of three students nominated by University of California Student Association to be considered by the committee in May. UCSA had also recommended Oved as one of the finalists in the student regent selection process the previous school year, said Regent George Kieffer, chair of the Special Committee to Select a Student Regent.
In the past few weeks, students have brought forward allegations that Oved accepted a campaign donation from Adam Milstein, a prominent donor to several pro-Israel organizations, when he ran for Undergraduate Students Association Council internal vice president last year. Several students who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting said they were concerned that Oved’s ties to Milstein presented a conflict of interest and demonstration of religious intolerance.
As of Monday afternoon, about 500 UC students and alumni signed a petition demanding Oved’s appointment to be delayed.
In early July, the UC Student Association urged the board to postpone the appointment until students could investigate the allegations against Oved. The board decided to proceed with the vote as scheduled, citing that Oved did not break student government bylaws. UCSA has said it plans to continue its investigation of the allegations against Oved whether he is appointed as student regent-designate or not.
Saifuddin said she voted no in light of discomfort felt by many students.
“(My vote) is a reflection of the feelings of a large part of the student community that asks for clarity and transparency as a student leader,” Saifuddin said. “The student regent is only as effective as the strength of the relationship with their students.”
Saifuddin said that despite her vote, she looks forward to working with Oved on the common ground of supporting students’ needs.
The student regent-designate is a non-voting member of the UC Board of Regents. After serving as the student regent-designate for a year, the appointee fills the student regent position as the only student with a vote on the board.
Oved said during the meeting that he will work to broaden access to sexual violence and mental health resources and advocate for greater state financial support of the University.