Religion

UCLA Student Faces Anti-Semitism While Seeking Student Government Position

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
UCLA.UCLA.

A Jewish student at University of California Los Angeles was almost denied a position in the Undergraduate Students Association for her religion and heritage, sparking outrage.

Rachel Beyda was apparently well qualified for a position on the association’s judicial board, but other students considered denying her confirmation based on her faith and active participation in the Jewish community, according to an Op-Ed in UCLA's Daily Bruin from Beyda’s friend, Rachel Frenklak.

As noted by The College FixBeyda was already deemed qualified when a three-member council appointments review committee confirmed her. However, when she made her case to members of the student government, things took a turn.

“Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, given that recently … (inaudible) … has been surrounding cases of conflict of interest, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view in … (inaudible) …?” representative Fabienne Roth said in a recording of the proceedings. 

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Another council member, Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed echoed the sentiment later in the hearing. “For some reason, I’m not 100 percent comfortable. I don’t know why. I’ll go through her application again. I’ve been going through it constantly, but I definitely can see that she’s qualified for sure.”

Avinoam Baral, the president of the Undergraduate Students Association, who is Jewish, at this point noted that, “questioning a candidate’s ability to remain unbiased simply on the basis of her being a member of a particular community is an inappropriate question that we would not feel comfortable asking student members of other communities.”

The “conflict of interest” Roth was referring to is most likely a case the judicial board dealt with last year — the group Students for Justice in Palestine brought a case against two members of the student government after the USAC vote on the unsuccessful “Resolution to Divest from Companies that Violate Palestinian Human Rights."

Beyda eventually left the room while the council’s decision was being made, and Frenklak claimed the discourse that followed included “unequivocal anti-Semitism during which some of our council members resorted to some of the oldest accusations against Jews, including divided loyalties and dishonesty.”

According to The College Fix, "half of the student council expressed at least some opposition to confirmation due to Beyda’s affiliations, and four councilmembers initially voted not to confirm based on such opposition."

A supervising faculty member eventually stepped in and reminded the representatives there was a difference between perceived and actual conflicts on interest, at which point Beyda was unanimously approved.

Sources: Daily Bruin, The College Fix / Image via Chris Radcliff/Flickr