My name is Avi Oved. I am a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. I am a fourth-year economics major. I am the Student Regent-designate of the University of California Board of Regents. And I am Jewish.
Prior to my appointment as your Student Regent-designate, some members of the UC community raised concerns about my ability to be an effective leader. I was called upon by many of these students to answer for my conduct, for my past work as Internal Vice President of the UCLA Undergraduate Student Association Council and for my personal beliefs. With the tumult of this summer and my confirmation by the UC Board of Regents behind us, I am taking this opportunity to answer.
In the months and weeks preceding my appointment, there were many conversations that took place about my history of work and service in student government. Some of these conversations were heated, and some of these conversations took place on social media.
The technology that we have at our disposal, especially at our fingertips, is both a gift and a responsibility. Comments made in the heat of the moment may not be withdrawn. They may not be redacted. They are burned into the consciousness of all who see and read them.
Some of the comments that emerged in those conversations carried with them an undercurrent of intolerance and ignorance. It is statements like these, filled with ugly sentiments and ill feelings, that I wish to acknowledge and to condemn.
I am Jewish and I am pro-Israel. I have never felt the need to hide my heritage or my beliefs. However, I cannot sit idly by and allow my culture to be conflated with ideas and viewpoints that I do not ascribe to. I find all forms of hate-speech repugnant. Any implication that I feel otherwise because of statements made by others, or because I embrace my cultural heritage, is an irresponsible one.
With that said, I want to stress that while I do identify with certain groups and a certain culture, those aspects are part of my persona, but not a part of my platform. As your Student Regent-designate, I am committed to listening to and advocating on behalf of all students, regardless of background or belief.
I consider myself fortunate to be in a position from which I am able to advocate for my peers and I mean to make the most out of my time as your Student Regent-designate. During my tenure, I want to focus on a number of key issues, including sexual violence prevention, mental health awareness and increased student representation on the UC Board of Regents. In addition, I want to centralize this office’s advocacy efforts with other tiers of higher education.
In the meantime, I want to reiterate something Student Regent Sadia Saifuddin and I spoke about following my appointment. Hateful invective and bigotry will never give way to productive discourse and dialogue. Personal views and beliefs aside, I am confident that the common ground I share with you, the students of this great university, will yield an immensely productive term as your Student Regent. I look forward to serving you.
Avi Oved, UC Student Regent-designate