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YSU Vice President Resigns

On Wednesday December 19, a ystud email was sent out by Tzvi Solomon, Chairman of the YU student Canvassing Committee, announcing that, “In the next few weeks an election for YSU Vice President will be held.” The email explained how to declare candidacy but not the occasion for the election or, in other words, why the position had become vacant.

Late Saturday night, December 22, Yeshiva Student Union (YSU) President Yosef Hoffman began to clarify the situation. That night, Mr. Hoffman announced the resignation of Moshe Siegel, the Union’s vice president, in a ystud email that read as follows:

“The Yeshiva Student Union would like to inform the student body of Moshe Siegel's stepping down from his position as YSU vice president. We thank Moshe for all of his hard work on the board and look forward to working with him in other contexts as he continues to be involved on campus.”

In an interview with The Commentator, Hoffman explained that Siegel had announced his resignation to Hezzy Jesin, Wilf Campus Director of the Office of Student Life on December 18. Siegel cited his involvement in the Toastmasters club as his reason for stepping down.

“I originally ran for student council so that I could better the student body,” he explained, “but I decided that I could better serve the student community as a member of the Toastmasters board than as a student council leader.”

“I had a lot of fun being on YSU,” he added. “It was an amazing experience where I made a lot of friends; I highly recommend running for the position.”

Toastmasters is a professional public speaking club that boasts more than 10,000 clubs and 200,000 members worldwide. Avi Persin founded the YU club earlier this year and recruited Moshe, who currently sits as the club’s Vice President of Education.

Hoffman responded positively to Siegel’s decision to leave his post at YSU. “It was the responsible decision to step down and allow someone more interested and dedicated to take the position,” he explained.

The presidents of the other student councils voiced similar sentiments.

Adam Neuman, president of Yeshiva College Student Association said, “I respect Moshe’s decision. I think it’s honorable for him to realize that he could contribute more elsewhere. I give him credit for realizing he would better serve the student body in another position.”

Gabi Weinberg, president of the Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY) evaluated the situation succinctly. “We’re sorry to see him go,” he said, “but I think his decision is in both his best interest and the best interest of the student government. I’m very excited to see who will be the next person to join the student leadership.”

Mr. Hoffman explains that Siegel was fulfilling the basic requirements in his role as vice president. He says that the Union oversees approximately forty clubs and that each of the council’s four members are therefore responsible for supervising the functions of about ten clubs. Apparently Siegel performed this task satisfactorily.

When it came to planning and organizing the annual Chanukah Concert, however, it is not as clear that Siegel fulfilled his duty to the student body. The Chanukah concert is the biggest event run by the student councils, this year involving over 1,000 guests, budgeting tens of thousands of dollars, and featuring Jewish celebrity guests including Edon and Shalsheles.

The concert officially falls under the purview of YSU, and though the other councils are there to lend support, YSU is meant to carry the bulk of the load. It appears that this year though, YSU had difficulty planning the concert alone, in part due to Moshe’s absence in the process.

About Siegel’s involvement in planning the concert Mr. Hoffman said the following: “The Chanukah concert is our biggest event and he didn’t have much to do with it.”

Mr. Weinberg seconded this feeling. “The presidents meet about the Chanukah concert,” he explained, and “we saw that the YSU board had issues in fulfilling its assigned tasks for an event that they mostly sponsor. It seems Moshe was not able to fulfill his duties because he was busy with other things.”

Mr. Neuman put the situation in a broader perspective. “The responsibilities of student council members are far greater than only overseeing the clubs and our various Google documents,” he explained. “It means taking initiative, looking for new projects, and dedicating your time, effort, and energy towards the student body.”

Neuman then extrapolated for the future, issuing a warning to potential candidates. “If you’re running for student council just to oversee the clubs, you shouldn't run.”

According to Aaron Kor, Chief Justice of the student court, no official action was taken against Siegel. According to the student constitution, there are two formal methods of removing a member of student council: impeachment and official charges of negligence, incompetence, or malfeasance. Neither of these formal complaints was brought against Siegel.

Hoffman does say, however, that he approached Siegel personally to confront his absence from organizing the concert. “As President, I wanted to know what he was up to,” Hoffman explains. “He met with Hezzy to discuss where his priorities lie and it seems he realized he is more dedicated to Toastmasters.”

When asked whether he approached Mr. Jesin voluntarily or because Jesin requested to meet with him, Siegel declined to comment.

According to Mr. Solomon, the canvassing committee will be holding a specific election to fill the position of YSU Vice President shortly after winter break.

As stated in the ystud email sent to the student body, “In order to be eligible to run you must declare your candidacy and be officially approved. You must e-mail with your full name as it appears on your transcript and your YU ID by Monday December 31st.”