By Amalya Teitelbaum
*This article has been updated to include a link to the court’s decision and to reflect accurate dates pertaining to the case.
At the beginning of the High Holiday break, an email was sent out by the Student Court of the Wilf Campus to Wilf students regarding Jonathan Malek’s petition against Baruch Lerman submitted on September 29, 2020.
“Gabriel is a student from my school, Yeshiva College … Jonathan is a student in Syms and not Yeshiva College.” This was the quote stated by Mr. Baruch Lerman through a Whatsapp Chat that began the development of the case of Jonathan Malek vs Baruch Lerman. However, there was a complex chain of events that lead up to the quote and the occurrences surrounding it.
The background of the case was the simple act of SOY President Akiva Poppers appointing Baruch Lerman (Respondent) in his place on the Canvassing Committee in compliance with Article X Section 1(3) of the Wilf Constitution which states, “The Presidents of YSU, YCSA, SYMSSC, and SOY, shall each serve as a member of the Canvassing Committee, or may appoint another student from their respective councils to represent them on the Canvassing Committee and assist in matters deemed necessary by the Chairman of the Canvassing Committee.”
The next step in the chain of events leading to the case was Mr. Lerman’s decision to then step down from the Canvassing Committee on September 27. Since the Wilf Campus Student Government (WCSG) requires that anyone leaving the Canvassing Committee appoint a replacement, Mr. Lerman appointed Jonathan Malek (Petitioner) in his stead on September 29.
Just a few hours later on September 29, Mr. Lerman “corrected” his initial decision by appointing Gabriel Goralnick as opposed to Mr. Malek, claiming that since Malek was a Sy Syms School of Business student, the original appointment was “null.” Jonathan Malek asked the court to decide if Mr Lerman (Respondent) was within his rights to remove him from the Canvassing Committee and appoint another student in his stead. This brings us to the opening of the court case.
Mr. Lerman’s argument stating that his initial appointing of the Petitioner was null is based on part of Article X Section 1(3) as well, “If one of the aforementioned officials shall run for any WCSG position, or shall be involved in any other conflict of interest, he shall be required to appoint another student from his school to serve on the Canvassing Committee in his place.” Mr. Lerman understood the word “official” as himself and the word “school” as either the two Wilf Campus undergraduate study programs, Yeshiva College (YC) or Sy Syms School of Business (SSSB). Meaning that someone from YC can only appoint someone from YC and someone from Syms could only appoint someone from Syms. Based on the fact that Mr. Lerman is a student at YC and Mr. Malek is a student at Syms, he retracted his original appointment and named Mr. Gabriel Goralnick (YC student) to take his place.
Mr. Malek (Petitioner) argued that the Respondent did not have the power as merely a presidential replacement to appoint someone in his stead. The court rejected that argument based on Article X Section 1(3) which states that officials running for any other WCSG or another conflict of interest to appoint another student from his school to serve on the Canvassing Committee. Since it uses the language of officials and not presidents it indicates that the President’s appointee has the power to appoint someone from his school in his stead and that it is required. So not only was Mr. Lerman within his right to appoint a replacement, he was obligated to.
The Court then dealt with two questions after affirming that the Respondent was obligated to appoint a replacement to the Canvassing Committee. The first was whether the Petitioner was enrolled in the same “school” as Respondent. The second concerned if Petitioner was ever able to hold the position on the Canvassing Committee. This Court answers both of these questions in the negative.
On October 7, the student court issued a decision regarding the case of Jonathan Malek v. Baruch Lerman. The court ruled in favor of Mr. Lerman (Respondent) stating that not only was Lerman in his right to appoint someone but that Mr. Malek (Petitioner) never held the position seeing as the petitioner and respondent are from separate schools. Being a student enrolled in YC, Mr. Gabriel Goralnick is the legitimate replacement of Respondent.