On Sunday, February 22nd, the Campus Impact Network hosted Camp(us) Impact, a retreat for 30 Jewish student leaders from UC Berkeley, Cal Poly Pomona, USC, UCLA, Occidental College, Cal State Northridge, Cal State Long Beach, UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton, and Chapman College. The Campus Impact Network is our Federation’s response to the growing BDS movement on our campuses. We aim to embolden our Jewish student leaders with the tools and resources to become change makers, partnering with them to reshape the political environments on their local campuses.
Our day-long workshop took place at UCLA Hillel and was facilitated by Reinvent Communications. Instructors from this communications and leadership development firm guided the students through several exercises, including goal setting and networking, culminating in the creation of campus initiatives that students will produce at their respective colleges and universities.
Students worked together to refine their goals and visions for each initiative, and at the conclusion of the day’s activities, they were given three minutes each to deliver a pitch to a Shark Tank-style panel of judges—professionals from Reinvent Communications and our Federation—in order to fund their initiatives.
Ultimately we awarded 14 micro-grants, totaling $10,000, to support the students in leading different initiatives on their campuses that will help build bridges with other students and leverage their networks for a deep impact. Student responses were remarkably positive to the event, and we will continue to work with them as they put their ideas into action.
This training session took place in the aftermath of several alarming incidents against Jewish students at area schools, further highlighting the need for change. The past few weeks saw:
- Rachel Beyda, a sophomore at UCLA who was nominated to serve on a student judicial board (which presides over student ethics hearings), was questioned by known anti-Israel activists on UCLA’s student government on whether or not she was fit to serve in the position because of her campus activity in Jewish groups. The student government board initially voted 4-1 to not appoint her, but when a faculty member present pointed out that the argument against her was problematic, they re-voted and she was appointed unanimously.
- The UCAS (a panel of undergraduate student government officials with representation of all the University of California schools) voted to divest from all oppressive countries including Israel and the United States.
- The UC Davis student government passed a Boycott and Divestment resolution against Israel at a hearing in which Jewish student leaders were harassed out of the room to the chants of “Allah Akbar.” The next morning, swastikas were found spray painted on the AEPi (Jewish fraternity) house at UC Davis.
- The Stanford student government passed a Boycott and Divestment resolution against Israel in a previously unscheduled appeals hearing two days after the government had formally voted the bill down.
- A dorm complex at UC Berkeley was targeted with faux “eviction” notices as a way of protesting certain Israeli policies.
Our Federation will not stand by as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents are becoming more regular, touching more and more campuses in our region. We are committed to working with our students and partners on the ground to transform this environment.
For more information on our Campus Impact Network, please contact Dan Gold at DGold@JewishLA.org.