Mark Maloof, president of the Undergraduate Student Government, faced tough scrutiny at Thursday’s Senate meeting after he revealed he had hired Moiz K. Malik, former USG Chief Justice, for director of the Audio/Visual Board earlier this semester without senate approval.
Maloof appointed Malik to direct the agency in late January, but the four-senator committee assigned to check out and interview the candidate did not second a motion to approve the nomination. Malik was never presented to the Senate, but Maloof gave him the job anyway.
Senator David Adams, the committee member who motioned to approve Malik’s appointment, said Maloof’s failure to consult the senate was illegal, as per USG law.
“We have someone working for us illegally and that’s problematic,” Adams said during the meeting. “Upon that vote failing in the committee, why wasn’t [the job] put back up on ZebraNet?”
The USG Code says that the committee has to approve a president’s appointment and recommend in writing the confirmation of the candidate to the senate. The appointment then must be approved by a majority vote by the senate.
On Thursday, senators repeatedly asked Maloof why he did not start a new search after Malik was not approved. Maloof told senators he would like Malik to get denied first before beginning the search. He admitted the misstep, but he said the committee “didn’t approve the appointment but didn’t deny it either” and that his decision was in the best interest of the students.
“I was a little selfish,” he said. “In my eyes if you guys [in the committee] weren’t going to point it out, I wasn’t going to call it out either … I want to apologize for what happened, but I think I made the right decision for what this government needed.”
The agency, known as A/V, provides audio and video equipment for student clubs to use in their events. The agency had been shut down in November, when the previous director left.
This is the second scandal in
the USG this academic year. Two former vice presidents—Allen Abraham, who is running for USG Treasurer at this week’s election, and Farjad Fazli—resigned in November 2011, after an internal audit showed they illegally, as per USG law, provided wages to their assistants. One of the violations, according to payroll documents, included creating a position without the senate’s authorization.
Executive Vice President Deborah Machalow said Maloof’s actions are “entirely reprehensible.”
“The USG laws were created to protect the student and the student activities fee,” she said. “The senate is being ignored and its rules are being completely disregarded.”
USG operates under Robert’s Rules of Order, a popular guide to running meetings. The rules require that every motion made in a committee be seconded. If there is no second, the motion dies, according to Robert’s Rules.
Senators spent most of Thursday’s meeting discussing how and whether Maloof violated the USG law and what to do about Malik, but no consensus was reached. Senator Jason Sockin, who found out Malik was in the job just days ago, said he was upset Malik is going to hold the position for at least another week even after the story was unveiled.
“If he stays, we’re rewarding him for getting the job illegally,” Sockin said.
Adams said Maloof should re-hire Malik as an assistant and assign him to take care of the agency until the end of the semester so the legality of the situation is restored. Malik is earning $9.50 an hour and can only work up to 20 hours a week.
The other senators present at January’s vetting committee—Oluwasegun Adedapo, Tiffany Bibby and Ryann Williams—said the reason not to approve Malik was that he had no experience working with audio and video. Some of the senators also said Malik is not well-liked in the USG and is known as being “arrogant” and “rough on the edges.”
Maloof said, however, that Malik is a very hard worker and is doing a good job directing the agency.
“I needed someone that I knew I could trust to do the job and handle tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment, and the only person was Mr. Malik,” Maloof said. “I know he didn’t have all the A/V knowledge that I know some people would expect from an A/V director, but he did have the administrative knowledge and the skill set he would need to clean up the agency, and I thought that at that time this was a priority.”
Maloof said there had been a lot of corruption in the agency, where “things were going missing,” and he said he needed someone to restructure it. Malik said thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment had been stolen from the agency in previous years, and he has worked to stop that. Last summer, an $8,000 gator vehicle used to transport equipment was stolen from the agency, according to USG.
The agency is currently creating its first inventory system, discarding outdated equipment, cleaning out the equipment closet, testing current equipment for damages, repairing equipment and creating a handbook, Maloof said.
Malik said most senators were aware he was working with A/V ever since he started and that the controversy is part of USG’s political games.
“I sat in the senate office and met with clubs while senators were there,” he said. “There’s always a lot of political squabbling in the last weeks of the semester.”
Senators also took issue with the fact that they never received a letter of resignation from Malik as USG’s chief justice and some still thought he was still working in the judiciary department. Although USG’s website still lists Malik in the position, the acting chief justice this semester has been Associate Justice Joseph Garlow.
Malik has worked with USG for years now. He’s been a senator, treasurer and director of Student Activities Board. Last year, he ran for USG president but was defeated by Maloof.
Malik also said his lack of experience should not be a reason not to hire someone for a USG position. He said the purpose of USG is to give opportunities for people to learn and practice different skills.
Senator Eric Lau said the “bashing” against Maloof during the meeting was excessive because Maloof was the only one to take the initiative to reform an agency that was “very corrupt.”
“Instead of being bashed, he should be commended because I don’t think anybody in the executive council or the senate would have won about in trying to reform it,” Lau said. “Even though he did this illegally … he was trying to help.”
Lau also said that without the agency, clubs would be paying three times as much for outsourcing A/V equipment.