Three first-year graduate students at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs launched a Jewish caucus as a means to mobilize the Jewish student community.
The newly founded Jewish caucus is an official graduate student organization at Luskin and is the first of its kind. The students behind this new caucus, Zev Hurwitz, Joshua Baum and Roxana (who asked that her last name be omitted), founded the group to create a place for Jewish students to actively “promote Jewish values, including equity and justice on campus, in California and nationwide.”
The founders hope to create the sort of advocacy that they feel currently exists only within UCLA’s undergraduate community. They said they want the caucus to be less of just a space to discuss the problems in the community and more of a place where like-minded individuals can strategize and find ways to make tangible change.
The idea is “to be more proactive than reactive,” Hurwitz said.
The group does not exclude non-Jewish students from joining. In fact, the founders said that part of their goal is to use the caucus to help include any people or groups that share the values of equity and fairness.
Hurwitz said that he feels that while there are many other organizations currently at the School of Public Affairs, none have a Jewish angle. Hurwitz and Baum have expressed their desire to connect with other groups and organizations, both on campus and off-campus.
As students with different academic focuses, the three founders may offer various perspectives on social welfare, public policy and urban planning; however, their pursuit of equity and justice are shared. Their aim in creating the Jewish caucus has been to unite and promote interdepartmental collaboration among Luskin students, as well as others in the community.
“There is a clear relationship between the social work field and Jewish values,” Roxana, a masters of social welfare student, said. “It’s imperative for socially-minded Jewish students to be at the forefront of social welfare work and for social workers to lead the Jewish community’s fight against hate and intolerance.”
Baum expressed that he and his team hope to help their organization grow through uniting and working together.
As students pursuing a two-year program, the Jewish caucus’ founders recognize the difficulty of starting such a time-consuming project so late in the year, especially with midterms afoot. However, they feel that now is the right time to do so and that once the website is up and running, they will be able to recruit more members. For the time being, the caucus is active through social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. In the meantime, the founders have plans to spend the summer brainstorming about how to achieve their goals in the fall and how to best market themselves to their peers and to the local community.