By: Nissim Farhy  | 

Student Court Affirms Election of Syms Vice President, Disqualification of Write-in Candidate

The Wilf Campus Student Court affirmed Joel Weinstein’s (SSSB ‘25) election as the Sy Syms School of Business Student Council (SSSBSC) vice president this week, rejecting a claim that the candidate who received the most votes, Jeremy Weiss (SSSB ‘26), was illegitimately disqualified. 

Weiss, who was removed from the ballot by the Wilf Canvassing Committee for violating campaign rules and later received a large majority of the votes in a write-in campaign, claimed that his disqualification did not preclude him from running as a write-in candidate. Weiss requested that the Court install him as the rightful SSSBSC vice president.

Weiss was initially removed from the ballot by the Wilf Campus Canvassing Committee, the student organization tasked with overseeing elections, for violating several campaign rules, including early campaigning and distributing unapproved fliers. He appealed this decision to the Student Court on April 15, before the election. Weiss claimed that his disqualification was illegitimate, as he did not receive a copy of the rules, and that the warning that a member of the Canvassing Committee provided to him was not ‘formal.’ 

The Student Court in this preliminary case unanimously rejected Weiss' appeal. Regarding Weiss’s first complaint, they stated that “all candidates were required to agree to the rules when applying to run, the application of which included a link to the rules.” Additionally, they added for the second complaint, “There is no requirement to warn a candidate of violations of the rules, according to the election rules.”

Following the ruling, the Canvassing Committee decided to reinstate Weiss despite the violations, only to later disqualify him again after finding further infractions. This reversal occurred following the addition of Yaakov Baker (YC '24) to the Canvassing Committee following YSU President Zakkai Noktin’s (YC ‘24) departure. 

Despite this decision, Weiss ran a write-in campaign. Although in the initial tally that was emailed by the Canvassing Committee to the student body Weiss lost to Weinstein, when recounted, it appeared that Weiss won with over 57% of the vote. The new results, released only on the WhatsApp chat for candidates, added that Weiss was formally disqualified from running, and Weinstein remained the vice president-elect. 

Subsequently, Weiss filed a suit titled Weiss v. Canvassing Committee with Andrew Warren (SSSB ‘24) and Matthew Loren (SSSB ‘26) acting as his legal counsel. Warren claimed that although Weiss was removed from the ballot, that should not curtail him from running as a write-in candidate. Additionally, they argued that due to a member of the Canvassing Committee stepping down following the initial vote to expel and reinstate Weiss, the subsequent vote should be invalidated. Furthermore, they argued that the Canvassing Committee engaged in ‘corrupt activity’ both by re-expelling Weiss solely because of the recount that showed him as the winner and never releasing the actual results to the public.

During the three-hour long proceedings, Naomi Rose (SCW ‘25), acting as a legal counsel on behalf of the Canvassing Committee, argued that the Wilf Constitution implied that a candidate found violating the election rules would be automatically disqualified, even without a vote by the Canvassing Committee. Rose also argued that violation of rules would fully disqualify a student from running, not just from having their names listed on the ballot.

Rose also presented evidence suggesting that Weiss violated additional campaign rules, engaging in quid pro quo by offering students a chance to win a raffle if they proved that they voted for him, which Weiss denied, and malicious campaigning by hanging up signs and attempting to distribute a public email that denounced the Canvassing Committee as a “corrupt system” and accusing the Committee of “insider collusion.”

David Yagudayev (YC ‘25), president of the canvassing committee, testified that the second vote to expel Weiss was due to his running as a write-in candidate and had nothing to do with the amount of votes he received. Yagudayev also showed that the Committee attempted to send the correct tally of the votes to the student body, but this was prevented by Wilfevents, which oversees emails to the student body. 

Following the trial, Warren provided new evidence suggesting that outgoing-SSSBSC President Andrew Jacobson (SSSB ‘24), a member of the Canvassing Committee, publicly endorsed Weinstein, which would make him partial in any voting. “Andrew Jacobson should have never been allowed to participate in the final conversation to disqualify Weiss after voting took place,” Warren stated in his brief. “We believe that Jacobson may have had an impact on the other members of the Canvassing Committee. Therefore, any charges of maliciousness should be disregarded as the judgment of the Committee evidently cannot be trusted.”

In its opinion, delivered by Chief Justice Elishama Marmon (YC '24), the Court ruled in favor of the Canvassing Committee. First, “the Court concluded that a Canvassing Committee vote is not necessary to disqualify a candidate” if the candidate violated the rules. Secondly, “the Court concluded that disqualification is, by default, complete disqualification from the election.” “Given that Weiss himself acknowledged the violation of the rules,” the opinion said, “combined with the decisions of the Court on the two previous issues, Mr. Weiss was entirely disqualified from this election.”

The Court decided to commit to writing additional findings not directly relevant to the case at hand.

The Court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to ascertain if Weiss himself engaged in quid pro quo or if someone did it on his behalf without his knowledge. Neither this specific allegation, nor Jacobson’s participation on the Committee were deemed to be relevant to the decision. 

The Court also unanimously ruled that Weiss’s fliers questioning the legitimacy of the Canvassing Committee did not constitute malicious campaigning. However in a 3-2 decision, the Court ruled that Weiss’s attempted public email, which called the “election corrupt” and accused a justice by name of “twisting my words” constituted malicious campaigning and would itself disqualify Weiss from the election entirely. Justice Gilad Menashe (SSSB ‘24) dissented on this decision, arguing that since the email was not sent out it did not constitute ‘campaigning.’ 

Finally, in its ruling, “the Court unanimously decided to remove Mr. Jacobson from his Canvassing Committee position” saying that campaigning for a candidate “is an impeachable offense relative to his position as SSSBSC president, which falls to the General Assembly to resolve.”

Although the Court was unanimous in its ruling against Jacobson, Justice Yonatan Fine (YC ‘24) wrote a dissent arguing for the instatement of Weiss as vice president. Fine argued that the Canvassing Committee was obligated to formally vote to disqualify Weiss from the campaign. Fine continued that Jacobson’s vote may have influenced other Committee members, thereby invalidating the vote. Given that Weiss’s infractions were not adequate to warrant an expulsion by the Court itself, Fine claimed that Weiss “remained an eligible candidate.” He also joined Menashe’s partial dissent that the incident did not constitute ‘campaigning.’

Warren, in a statement to The Commentator, expressed disapproval of the Court’s decision. “Their response to the corruption is woefully inadequate,” he said, “and will make it that much harder to hold the Canvassing Committee accountable in the future.”

Members of the Canvassing Committee and the defense told The Commentator that they felt vindicated by the decision but were disappointed by the actions of Jacobson. “I believe the decision was fair for all parties involved,” Rose said. “The justices issued a fair verdict that affected both Mr. Weiss as well as the Canvassing Committee.”

“The Canvassing Committee is committed to facilitating successful and fair YU student elections,” Yagudayev told The Commentator. “The decision by the student court affirmed that we took the appropriate course of action. We regret and were unaware of the decisions of one of the members of the Committee and as a result had to let him go.”

“The course of events in this case should serve as a lesson to all members of the Wilf

Campus Student Government,” Fine concluded in his dissent. “While we may all be incorrect in our opinions at times, we owe to our constituency the bare minimum of approaching our positions with fairness and objectivity, doing the best we can in our various roles.”


Photo Caption: The Wilf Campus Student Court affirmed Joel Weinstein’s election as the Sy Syms School of Business Student Council (SSSBSC) vice president

Photo Credit: The Commentator