Jews, immigrants wary of new UC leaders

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la-ed-regents-uc-student-representative-sadia--001A pro-Israel group hopes that one university system will seek to promote inclusiveness and not the anti-Semitic bigotry displayed by its newest student representative.

The University of California Board of Regents has voted in its first Muslim student representative, despite objections from campus Jewish groups who feel Sadia Saifuddin’s role in anti-Semitic activism makes her unqualified to represent the views of all students.

Dr. Roberta Seid of StandWithUs  said that Saifuddin not only supported divestment of funds from companies that do business with Israel, but she also targeted a professor who fought against anti-Semitism.

“We wish that the Regents had chosen a bridge builder instead of a bridge burner,” Dr. Seid laments. “When the UC campus climate report came out after interviewing Jewish students about their painful experiences on campus, she co-signed a letter with CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, and basically disparaged the letter and the feelings of the Jewish students.”

Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, hopes that the UC system will encourage inclusiveness on all campuses, but she does not see how that is possible with Saifuddin in a position of leadership.

“How can she possibly be expected to represent all students when she has an extremist point of view against those who do not agree with her,” Rothstein wonders. “We hope that going forward the UC Regents will promote inclusiveness on campus and reject the kind of bigotry that Sadia Saifuddin has promoted in the past.”

And as the University of California welcomes the outgoing secretary of Homeland Security as the new head of its system, one Republican hopes she will be more “collegial and democratic” than she has been in the past.

The University of California Regents has agreed to confirm the nomination of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the former Arizona governor who recently stepped down as head of the Department of Homeland Security and will be the first woman to head the UC system in its 150-year history.

Mark Pruner, chairman of the The Republican Party of Yolo County, points out that the Democrat has been at the forefront of U.S. immigration policies and initiated response to Hurricane Sandy. She also received criticism over the Boston bombings and the controversial airport security scanners.

“My hope is that she’s more collegial and more democratic, that she’s more willing to share influence and power at the UC than she was at the Department,” Pruner said.

Napolitano’s nomination drew protests from immigrant students who say they now feel unsafe in the UC system, as their families have been torn apart by Napolitano’s immigration policies.

“Of course she brings her own perspective,” Pruner notes. “I would be concerned or a bit disturbed because she brings more of an Arizona-centric perspective to a California-unique institution.”

Napolitano will take a lesser salary than outgoing UC President Mark Yudof when she takes her new position in in September.