SAN FRANCISCO — The UC Board of Regents confirmed UCLA junior Avi Oved as the 2015-16 student regent at its meeting Wednesday, with only one opposing vote from current student regent Sadia Saifuddin, just after about a dozen public commenters voiced their concerns about his potential political conflicts of interest.
Oved’s confirmation has been hotly contested in the last several weeks, after a document presented June 28 at a University of California Student Association’s meeting alleged that Oved received funding for his 2013 student government campaign from Adam Milstein, a pro-Israel supporter who also co-founded the Adam and Gila Milstein Foundation.
“As the student regent-designate, my only allegiance is to the students,” Oved said at the meeting. “We’re at a critical juncture in the UC. While our campuses grow in prestige, we still have a lot of work to do.”
The UCSA’s systemwide affairs committee passed a motion in a closed session July 4 to recommend that the regents postpone Oved’s confirmation until September. Several public commenters were concerned that the board chose to ignore the recommendation.
“Avi Oved cannot represent all 230,000 students in the UC system without a conflict of interest,” said incoming UC Berkeley student government senator and sophomore Marium Navid during the public comment session.
Navid also presented to the board a petition with more than 800 signatures from various UC students requesting the regents postpone Oved’s confirmation.
In a written statement and during multiple interviews, Oved said receiving funding during his student government campaign did not violate the UCLA election code and that he was targeted because of his pro-Israel views.
The regents, in a July 9 letter responding to UCSA’s concerns, said that “even if all the allegations raised against Mr. Oved are true, they clearly would not constitute a violation of the UCLA election code.”
Sam Levine, executive director of the western region of the Zionist Organization of America, said Oved had done nothing wrong and that students were declaring him guilty by association.
“It’s nonsense. It’s a witch hunt,” Levine said. “The only reason is because he’s Jewish and pro-Israel. There’s a strong anti-Semitic attitude on many college campuses, and it’s discriminatory.”
UCSA will be continuing its investigation into conflict of interest concerns and funding transparency while Oved begins working with Saifuddin as student regent-designate.
“I know that the learning curve is steep, but I’m sure it’s one I can climb,” Oved said at the meeting.