By Molly Meisels, Editor in Chief
On Wednesday, January 29th, Zachary Greenberg, SSSB ‘21, the former Yeshiva Student Union (YSU) Vice President of Clubs, was officially recognized as YSU President after resigning as a Resident Advisor to assume the position.
As the YU Observer reported, Greenberg was the center of a controversy which arose following the resignation of YSU President Ariel Sacknovitz, SSSB ’20, who stepped down from his position at the end of the Fall 2019 semester. According to Amendment 7, Article II, Section II, Subsection 5 of the Wilf Constitution, Greenberg, as the VP of Clubs, assumed the position. However, a competing clause of the Constitution prohibited Greenberg’s presidency based on his RA position. The presidents of the Yeshiva College Student Association (YCSA) and the Student organization of Yeshiva (SOY) considered Greenberg’s presidency to be ineligible and filed a petition with the Wilf Student Court to remove him from office.
According to the Student Court Opinion released to the undergraduate Wilf student body on January 29th, the Court accepted the case – YCSA and SOY v YSU – but before they could make their decision, Greenberg’s legal counsel, Elimelekh Perl submitted a “Suggestion of Mootness” to Chief Justice Phillip Dolitsky, which stated that “Greenberg submitted a letter of resignation to the Director of University Housing & Residence Life at the Wilf Campus.” The Student Court verified this letter of resignation and held the argument by Greenberg and his counsel that the case is now moot. This decision, in turn, officially recognized Greenberg as YSU President
Although Greenberg appointed Jared Benjamin as Vice President of Clubs on January 26th, during the court’s deliberation proceedings, since he was not YSU President at the time, he re-designated Benjamin as VP of Clubs on January 29th. In a message to the Office of Student Life on the matter, Greenberg mentioned his constitutional right to appoint Benjamin and said, “Jared is a highly-regarded student in our school and I am confident he can prove to be helpful both in assisting me in running YSU and helping us organize Club Fair.” Additionally, with the approval of the General Assembly, Greenberg appointed Ami Malek as Vice President of Affairs.
Greenberg considers the verdict fair and as-expected. After chatting with representatives of the student court and student government and Jonathan Schwab of Yeshiva University Housing, Greenberg agreed that resigning from his RA position to assume the YSU presidency was in the school’s best interest. “I think the decision was fair and the Court has done a great job at going about such a difficult case […] I am just glad that we settled it on great terms all around,” said Greenberg. He told the YU Observer that he is assisting his RA successor with the transition process. Leib Wiener, YCSA President and co-petitioner of the initial suit, commended Greenberg for stepping down as RA. “I commend him for deciding to step up and continue to be a voice for the students and for making a sacrifice which I know must have been extremely difficult. Zack is a quality person, who I have worked with and am excited to keep working with for the rest of the year,” commented Wiener.
Yoni Broth, SOY President and co-petitioner of the original case against Greenberg, is pleased with the results of Greenberg’s resignation and the court’s verdict. Broth said, “I am thrilled to be working with Zack this semester […] I look forward to seeing how he will help the students as the official President of YSU.” Elka Wiesenberg, Vice President of Clubs for the Stern College for Women Student Council, expressed similar sentiments about working with Greenberg. “I’m thrilled that Zack is the YSU President. He is perfect for the position, bringing passion, dedication, and energy to every event he runs or oversees. He and Jared make a great team, and I look forward to working with them in their new roles,” she told the YU Observer.
Ultimately, all players in the case – the Court, Petitioners, and Respondents — agree that the Wilf Constitution is outdated and full of contradictions, which led to the predicament of Greenberg’s dual role as YSU President and RA. In their decision, the Student Court writes that the “bigger issue than a contested presidency [is] a poorly designed and outdated Constitution.” They provide evidence for their claims – “there is no updated version of the Constitution anywhere to be found. A quick internet search of “Wilf Constitution” yields a document titled “CONSTITUTION with 2014 AMENDMENTS.” Even though amendments have been added since, the Constitution itself has not been updated, and therefore, the Court finds it difficult to rule based on its inconsistencies. The Court decided to include information about the Constitution’s structure in their verdict “to show that the Constitution’s contradictory language and provisions have helped contribute to this mess.” They then call upon the student body and student government leaders to “update and revise the Constitution through the amendment process.”
Greenberg conveyed analogous sentiments. “The Constitution […] was well-written, but it needs to be…updated…so there isn’t a situation such as mine where there might be a mishap in a student government, which is not good for the student body where we’re trying to approve clubs, organize events, and help out the students,” Greenberg said. He then recommended that Wilf leaders look to the Beren Campus for inspiration, as Beren student leaders updated the Beren Constitution in May 2019. Greenberg added, “Hopefully we can have something similar to that on the Wilf Campus.”
“[…]it is our responsibility as a student body to construct a better written document. I hope that our students step up and propose amendments, or group and write a better document that is found binding in (student) court. Leib and I are in discussion about how we can help facilitate this now, but it is a need for our campus,” commented Broth.
In his first week in office, Greenberg, along with Wiener, Broth, and the Sy Syms Student Council, will be approving the club statuses of new clubs for the Spring 2020 semester. He says that he will be sitting down with his fellow student council president to “go through each club application and find the appropriate council to sponsor them.” When asked about the approval process of the YU Alliance, a club for LGBTQ+ students and their allies that has filed their application for the new semester, Greenberg called the issue “sensitive.” “I don’t think one person should have the answer. I think it is essential that all students feel that their voices are heard. I will do my best to help facilitate a conversation between all opinions to reach a good conclusion,” said Greenberg.
Photo: Zachary Greenberg
Photo Source: YU Macs