The University of California Board of Regents approved the appointment of a pro-Israel UCLA student as a student member of the board despite objections from pro-Palestinian students.
The board backed Avi Oved’s nomination at its meeting Wednesday in San Francisco. It rejected a call to delay its vote to allow time for an investigation into allegations that Oved had not properly disclosed a donation from a pro-Israel philanthropist to an unrelated UCLA student government campaign.
The student regent serves as a non-voting board member for one year before becoming a voting student regent. The board governs the University of California system.
According to The Daily Californian, U.C. Berkeley’s student newspaper, the University of California Students Association’s systemwide student affairs committee had requested the vote’s postponement until September so it could look into allegations regarding the donation.
Oved has denied that he acted improperly and called the accusations “an attack against me as a pro-Israel student.”
In a letter released July 9, the chairman of the Board of Regents and the chair of the special committee in charge of selecting a student regent said that “even if all of the allegations against Mr. Oved are true, they clearly would not constitute a violation of the UCLA election code.”
UCLA’s student newspaper, The Daily Bruin, reported that the one vote cast against Oved was by current student regent Sadia Saifuddin, who cited concerns raised by students about transparency and conflict of interest in light of the allegations against Oved.
Oved, who is Jewish, will join Saifuddin, the first Muslim student representative on the University of California’s Board of Regents. Saifuddin’s appointment also met with controversy for her support for divestment from companies that do business with Israel in the West Bank.
Pro-Palestinian students had pointed to an April 2013 email sent by Oved to philanthropist Adam Milstein thanking him for what was described as a “generous donation.” At the time, Oved was running for the position of internal vice president of UCLA’s student government on the Bruins United slate.
Representing himself as speaking on behalf of Bruins United, Oved wrote to Milstein that the slate is “prepared to make sure that UCLA will maintains [sic] its allegiance to Israel and the Jewish community.”
Milstein had written a $1,000 check to UCLA’s Hillel earmarked for “UCLA student government leaders,” the L.A. Jewish Journal reported.