Pro-BDS student joins UC Regents, Jewish groups react

The University of California’s Board of Regents today voted in UC Berkeley undergraduate Sadia Saifuddin, 21, as a student member of the board, a move that triggered strong reactions from Jewish organizations concerned about her support for the controversial Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).

“It sends a bad message that somebody who is that divisive and that bigoted has made her way into the board of regents,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of the pro-Israel group StandWithUs. “How on earth is she supposed to be representing students when she can’t represent all students?”

Rabbi Aron Hier, director of campus outreach at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, echoed Rothstein’s sentiment.

“This choice today is not only disappointing – it’s antithetical to everything campus climate stands for,” he said. “The Simon Wiesenthal Center is stunned by this appointment by [the] UC regents.”

Hier was among those who spoke today during a public meeting at the University of California, San Francisco, prior to the election of Saifuddin. Roberta Seid, education and research director of StandWithUs, also critiqued the nominee during the meeting.

The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement expressing its concern with the regents' selection, which was unanimous, with one regent abstaining. 

“We respect and appreciate the UC Board of Regents’ independent confirmation process. We nevertheless are troubled by Saifuddin’s prior leadership role in anti-Israel activities on campus, including urging the regents to divest from companies doing business with Israel. The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has had a polarizing effect on campus climate. 

“As a student regent, Saifuddin has an obligation to represent the interests of the entire UC student body,” the statement read. “We will observe her actions as a student regent closely and will not hesitate to speak out if she runs afoul of this obligation.”