Representatives from UCLA and UC Berkeley met with members of the Legislative Jewish Caucus Friday, Dec. 2, in San Francisco to respond to questions and clarify any concerns the Caucus has regarding campus climate issues for Jewish students at the two universities.
External Affairs Vice Chancellor Rhea Turteltaub, Assistant Vice Chancellor Keith Parker and Undergraduate Students Association (USAC) President Danny Siegel were on hand to represent UCLA. Berkeley representatives included Assistant Chancellor Christine Treadway, Advocacy Director Michelle Moskowitz, Jewish Student Union President Josh Woznica and Hillel Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman.
The Legislative Jewish Caucus members in attendance were Assemblymember Marc Levine (Chair), Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, Senator Ben Allen, Senator Henry Stern, Assemblymember Marc Berman, and Senator Scott Wiener.
The discussion focused on media coverage of campus climate, which campus leaders were concerned tends to highlight negative, as opposed to positive events. University officials noted this can lead to understandable misperceptions by external communities of what occurs on the campuses. The group also discussed issues related to the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Members were informed of the administrative procedures at UCLA and UC Berkeley to ensure that all students live and learn in a campus environment free from harassment. They also discussed new and additional strategies, such as interfaith Shabbat dinners at UCLA, which UC Berkeley aspires to hold.
The student participants, Siegel and Woznica along with Rabbi Naftalin-Kelman, described the experiences of Jewish students, and opportunities for learning about how to address the challenges inherent in multi-cultural societies. The campus interventions in response to allegations or incidents of intolerance were discussed in detail.
Members of the Legislative Jewish Caucus asked for continuing dialogue with UCLA and UC Berkeley leadership and also offered to participate in upcoming campus events that will build stronger relationships between Jewish and non-Jewish students. Campus leaders said there will be more interactions with the Legislative Jewish Caucus in the future.