By: Sruli Fruchter  | 

Poppers to Assume SOY Presidency, Wilf Student Court Rules

Akiva Poppers (SSSB ‘22) will officially assume the Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY) presidency, following the Wilf Student Court’s 3-2 decision on May 13 to overturn the Canvassing Committee’s determination that Poppers was ineligible for the position. 

Chairman of the Canvassing Committee Jacob Rosenfeld (YC ‘21) first told Poppers that he would not qualify for SOY president because of his current “lower junior” status on May 4, three days before the Wilf Student Government elections. Following several message exchanges with Rosenfeld and Canvassing Committee Member Jacob Shiner (SSSB ‘21) in which they urged him to suspend his campaign, Poppers continued his write-in campaign

Poppers preemptively petitioned the Wilf Student Court on May 6, and after he received the highest number of write-in votes for the position in the May 7 elections, the Canvassing Committee ruled him unqualified for the position. Runner-up Zachary Lent (SSSB ’21) was instead declared the winner of the election after receiving 178 write-in votes, only one behind Poppers’ 179.

“What I feel may be forgotten in all of this is the power of a single vote, which was the difference in both the election and the Court. Never forget that you can be the difference-maker,” Poppers reflected. 

The court accepted to hear Poppers’ case on May 8, after he won the election; Daniel Melool (YC ‘22) served as his official legal counsel. They argued that Poppers’ current spring semester credits combined with his upcoming summer course credits would total at least 79 credits making him an “upper junior” by Fall 2020, the eligible class level for the SOY presidency. 

“I would like to thank everyone who backed my campaign, both by voting and writing briefs on my behalf, as well as my Counsel and advisors,” Poppers said. “I ran on a platform of representing the students of Yeshiva, and I look forward to fulfilling that promise and my Constitutional duties… I am excited to work with the other members of SOY to make your experience in Yeshiva University the best it can be.”

Associate Justices Bryan Lavi (YC ‘21), Aryeh Burg (YC ‘20) and Avraham Sosnowik (YC ‘21) ruled in the majority of Akiva Poppers v. Yeshiva University Canvassing Committee. “In summary, the Court sees no distinction between Spring credits in progress and Summer credits in progress,” Lavi, Burg and Sosnowik wrote in their ruling. “As long as the candidate will have the necessary credits, either filed or in progress, by the date of graduation he may assume office on graduation day… [Poppers] is eligible for the position of, and can be seated as, SOY President as per winning the majority of votes for said position in the Spring.”

Chief Justice Phillip Dolitsky (YC ‘20) and Associate Justice Jacob Stern (YC ‘20) held the dissenting opinion. “The majority has committed a grievous error in its decision,” wrote Dolitsky, with whom Stern joined. “It has taken the Constitution and spun it on a lathe, whirling it around until it magically appears to say, or not say, what they wish. Democracy doesn’t allow for the law to be molded by the hands of unelected judges. Democracy can only flourish if the law’s integrity is maintained and upheld by its courts. That wasn’t done today… Any onlooker can realize how simple this really is; petitioner [Poppers] will remain a lower Junior at the time of the 2020 Commencement, thus deeming him ineligible to become SOY President.”

In a statement sent to The Commentator, the Canvassing Committee wrote, “[We] felt our decision was strongly rooted in the Constitution, and [are] disappointed in the court's decision. Chief Justice Dolitsky wrote a beautiful dissent outlining our basic argument and explaining the flaw in the Petitioner's reasoning. That said, we hope Mr. Poppers will fulfill his responsibilities dutifully.”

Many student leaders have great expectations for Poppers’ presidency. “Poppers is a true leader at YU and is someone who has gone above and beyond for the students,” said YSU President Zachary Greenberg (SSSB ‘21), who won re-election on May 7. “I am very excited to work alongside him next year to improve student life on campus.”

“Akiva and I have known each other for a while now,” expressed outgoing SOY President Yoni Broth (SSSB ‘20), “and I'm sure that he's going to be a great leader as SOY President and set a great example for students next year.”

Yosef Lemel contributed to this story.

Photo Caption: Akiva Poppers, Chief Content Officer of MacsLive, will assume the SOY presidency. 
Photo Credit: Joe Bednarsh