UCLA Rules Students' Free Israel Trips Don't Undermine Vote on Divestment

Judicial Board rules against Students For Justice in Palestine complaint that sponsored Israel trips constitute a conflict of interest.

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Bruins for Israel members celebrating Yom Ha'atzmut in Bruin Plaza at UCLA.
Bruins for Israel members celebrating Yom Ha'atzmut in Bruin Plaza at UCLA.Credit: Courtesy

UCLA's undergraduate Judicial Board ruled Wednesday that student government representatives going on sponsored free trips to Israel does not constitute a conflict of interest when it comes to their electoral activities on campus.

As reported by the Jewish Journal, Students for Justice in Palestine on campus filed a complaint in April against two students, Sunny Singh and Lauren Rogers - neither of whom is Jewish - that challenges the legitimacy of their votes in February on a resolution (which failed 7-5) for UCLA to divest from companies that do business in the West Bank.

The claim is that because each student went on a free trip sponsored by pro-Israel organizations - one by the Anti-Defamation League and the other by the American Jewish Committee – their votes on divestment should be disqualified.

After a hearing that went on for over four hours and included cross examinations of both Singh and Rogers by SJP counsel, the UCLA Judicial Board voted 4-0 against the claim. Part of SJP's line of thinking was that the free trips to Israel were provided in exchange for the expectation that the two students would vote against the divestment resolution.

The AJC, which describes the SJP as "hell-bent on fostering a climate of hatred on campus towards Israel," welcomed the ruling in a statement released to the media. “We are pleased with the Judicial Board decision,” said Dean Schramm, President of AJC’s Los Angeles Region. “However, we are deeply troubled that the UCLA Administration has abdicated its responsibility to its students. Ms. Rogers was subjected for months to a hurtful and threatening environment on the very campus she has served with distinction and to which she remains deeply committed.”

In a separate incident reported by student group Bruins for Israel at UCLA on Wednesday, a group called the "Empowered Arab Sisterhood" distributed maps during a fair asking students to locate all the countries located in the Middle East. Israel was missing while Palestine was included.

Bruins for Israel requested an apology from the EAS that recognizes Israel and the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. It claims the omission is part of a trend of "anti-Zionist bigotry" on campus.

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