By Alex Mosher
On Jan. 29, the senate of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada congregated in the Rita Laden Senate Chambers to decide whether or not ASUN Vice President, Elliot Malin, should stand on trial to be impeached.
Beginning in November, Speaker of the Senate, Sarah Byrnes, asked Malin to appear before the committee on oversight for questioning as a result of discontentment towards the vice president that had been circulating around ASUN.
“When I kept hearing the disappointments over and over and over again, I was like, ‘Alright, public record fixes things. Let’s put it on public record, let’s get it all out in the open, give everyone a fair chance and see what happens,’” Byrnes said.
Byrnes said when she ran for speaker, one of her promises was to use the committee on oversight for accountability. Since the beginning of the semester she has asked multiple members of the executive board to appear before the committee on oversight such as Attorney General Steven Kish, who was questioned about his job performance last semester. Shortly thereafter, Alex Bybee, director of legislative affairs, was questioned before oversight about the funds he spent on the service learning and civic engagement conference last semester.
But when Malin arrived, he felt like he was being attacked instead of questioned.
“I think we should have every member of the executive [branch] go to oversight,” Malin said. “I think it’s a good check and a good balance. But when I went to oversight, I didn’t expect what I was there for. It made me incredibly saddened, and I became very defensive.”
Malin was questioned on his progress with the Pack Mentorship program, a program he said was not his responsibility to create, but one he was willing to work on. Malin was then asked to appear before oversight once again on Dec. 4 in order to show his progress.
On Dec. 4, because of a perceived lack of progression and witnessed acts of unprofessionalism, Senator Walberg, Senator Fabbi and Senator Harvison voted to move forward with an impeachment trial while the other half of the committee felt moving the issue to the senate floor was unnecessary. Byrnes was the tiebreaker who voted to move the issue to the senate floor because of the varied opinions.
“Maybe the better thing to be doing would be to re-evaluate what the vice president’s job is because, to be honest, what it stands right now anyone could float by in this position and still be doing their job 100 percent”
– Lane King
The Jan. 29 senate meeting would decide if Malin would have to stand trial for impeachment. In Malin’s opening statement on Jan 29, he admitted to being unprofessional in the past, and he stated that it was hard for him to be professional when he was being disrespected, claiming that he had been called a liar in a previous meeting.
The meeting continued with discussion from the senate. Senator for the College of Liberal Arts, Stefanie Walberg, was the first to voice her reasoning behind voting to impeach Malin in the December committee on oversight meeting.
“The entire time he was reporting, he said that he was working on specific things, and respectfully, he wasn’t, and that’s where I kind of feel cheated,” Walberg said.
Caden Fabbi, senator for the College of Liberal Arts, stated that “little to no progress” had been made in the two months since Malin was first called into oversight.
“We should all as a whole be dissatisfied with the job Vice President Malin has done thus far,” Fabbi said. “The vice president is paid $7,000 for their work in the association, and the vice president’s work this year doesn’t satisfy this amount. At the end of the day, I urge you all to consider your constituents and what they deserve when you vote.”
The job description of the vice president outlined in the Statutes of the Associated Students states that the job of the vice president consists of, but is not limited to assisting the president with the operating budget for ASUN, to act as a liaison between the senate and the executive branch, as well as a liaison between the senate and student publications and to “oversee and coordinate the Pack Mentorship Program for as long as the program is provided by ASUN.”
Malin stated he has completed all of these job requirements besides assisting the president in creating an operating budget because President Rashdan completed this before his term began. He also said that the Pack Mentorship Program was never his responsibility because the statute states, “oversee and coordinate…for as long as the program is provided by ASUN,” and since the program wasn’t established, it wasn’t his duty to create.
Senator for the College of Liberal Arts Eleanor Harvison said job descriptions shouldn’t be the end-all of your work performance.
“That’s the minimum level we start at, and you need to accomplish that and go above and beyond, because these are peoples’ hard earned money and wages,” Harvison said.
“To say I wasn’t going above and beyond on being the vice president, I think is absolutely ludicrous,” Malin said.
He stated that he has successfully secured an interfaith prayer room in the upcoming Pennington Student Achievement Center, as well as creating a kosher kitchen for students of Jewish or Muslim faith on campus. In addition, he has also created a club called, “Be in the Know,” with Senator for the College of Liberal Arts Lane King in order to fund amusing evening programs to encourage safe late night activities.
Senator King voiced his dismay with the motion to impeach Malin and asked the senate to reflect on whether or not the motion to impeach the vice president was a personal attack or a result of confusion about his job description.
“Maybe the better thing to be doing would be to re-evaluate what the vice president’s job is because, to be honest, what it stands right now anyone could float by in this position and still be doing their job 100 percent,” King said.
Harvison stated that there are current talks in the Committee on Government Operations about more clearly defining the job of the vice president.
When it came time for the senators to vote, only Walberg and Fabbi voted in favor of proceeding with Malin’s impeachment process.
Student Eli Gabay said after attending the Jan. 29 senate meeting he felt ASUN was not acting on behalf of students, because he felt Fabbi’s opinions were being influenced by a personal rivalry.
“I cannot believe that the money that I paid to ASUN was being wasted on this witch hunt,” Gabay said. “Although there are a few who try their hardest to make it better and voice their opinions effectively, it seemed as though there are a few that pushed their weight and tried to make something happen that was uncalled for.”
Fabbi stated that he has known Malin for a long time, and the decision was difficult for him as well.
“I had to take myself out of the personal zone and put myself in the senator zone and do what’s best for the students,” Fabbi said.
Speaker Byrnes said it’s ridiculous for someone to accuse ASUN of acting on rivalries.
“22 senators make the decisions surrounding a 2.3 million dollar budget that affects 15,000 students,” Byrnes said. “We’re making the decisions for everyone else, so we don’t have time for petty personal attacks. That doesn’t do anything, and it doesn’t go anywhere.”
Byrnes also stressed that she encourages students to attend senate meetings but was disappointed in how students attending the meeting conducted themselves.
ASUN President Rashdan also encourages students to be involved in the conversations within the association, whether they are concerned or just have questions.
“I think we are doing our jobs and doing it as effectively as possible, but the student body should always be cautious and challenging us, because it is their funds that are funding the programs that we are implementing, or continuing to implement,” Rashdan said.