By Kenny Bissett
The Vice President of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada Elliot Malin was first brought up for questioning at the Nov. 13 Committee on Oversight meeting because of a general concern voiced by the ASUN Senate that he was not fulfilling the roles of vice president as outlined in the Statutes of the Associated Students. The ASUN Senate determined that Malin had three weeks to demonstrate substantial progress in his role as VP.
Malin will be called up for questioning again at the Dec. 4 oversight meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the Rita Laden Senate Chambers, on the third floor of the Joe Crowley Student Union. At this point, it is uncertain what actions will be taken by the senate after Malin’s questioning.
“If he doesn’t meet their expectations, the senate does have the authority to move forward on possible impeachment,” said ASUN President Ziad Rashdan. “If he has met their expectations, I think they’ve put a challenge on him … he’s aware that they’re wanting to see more from him.”
Malin said he was “blind-sided,” when he was told he would be questioned at the Nov. 13 oversight meeting because he felt he had been doing his job as vice president.
“I think I can prove that I’ve done my job,” Malin said. “To question if I’ve done it is kind of ludicrous. I didn’t expect that meeting to go the way it was, and it seemed to be more of a forum for attack than for review, and that’s rather unfortunate.”
The biggest complaint that the senate had against Malin was his lack of effort to establish or further work on the Pack Mentorship Program, a program aimed at creating a network of mentors to advise and assist incoming students at UNR.
Malin failed to found and solidify the program over a seven-month period, which several senators, including College of Liberal Arts Senator Caden Fabbi, criticized him for.
“Everyone was under the assumption that it was Elliot’s job to found the Pack Mentorship program, yet no progress was made,” said Speaker of the Senate Sarah Byrnes.
Although one of the conditions the senate placed on Malin on Nov. 13 was to draft a document to officially establish the Pack Mentorship program, it was later determined that it wasn’t actually Malin’s job to found the program. ASUN Attorney General Steven Kish later issued an official opinion which stated that requiring Malin “to establish and run the pack Mentorship (Program) falls outside of his obligations and duties as Vice President.”
In addition, it was determined that the mentions of the PM program in the S.A.S. were legally non-binding “resolutions,” and were not established as law. Kish further determined that the
Senate must officially establish the PM program, including its budget, and that putting that burden on Malin “overextends the Office of Vice President and assumes powers not present therewith.”
“Part of my problem was, I didn’t know how to make (the Pack Mentorship Program) work,” Malin said. “I’m not going to push a program out that I don’t know how to make work.”
Malin also expressed personal dissatisfaction with his efforts to establish the Pack Mentorship Program. During his questioning at the oversight meeting on Nov. 13, Malin noted that “I’m not going to pat myself on the back.” However, Malin went on to criticize other senators who he claimed he had reached out to, unsuccessfully, for help establishing the PM program.
“I’m not going to hunt you guys down to meet with me,” Malin said.
In response to the accusations of not fulfilling his job roles, Malin not only sought professional legal advice, but compiled a report to the senate which he presented at the Nov. 20 Committee on Oversight meeting. Included in the report were specific examples Malin had taken to fulfill his roles as VP. However, several senators at the oversight meeting expressed that they simply wanted to see a greater overall effort on Malin’s part to be more involved in his position.
“The challenge that we all as student officers need to ask is, ‘Are we just meeting our expectations, or are we going beyond them?,’” Rashdan said. “We don’t join these offices to do what is expected. We join this office to leave an impact far beyond what is outlined in the documents.”
According to Rashdan, senators are looking to hold each other to a higher degree of accountability and encourage performance, “beyond what is expected,” of them.
“I don’t walk into the office every day reading these job descriptions,” Rashdan said. “I’m looking at what my constituents need, what opportunities we haven’t tapped into. The S.A.S. is all that I’m required to do, it’s not all that I’m expected to do.”
Part of the ASUN vice president’s job description is acting as a liaison between the senate and the executive branch of ASUN, as well as acting as a liaison between the senate and the student-run, student-funded publications on campus.
Malin has coordinated with The Nevada Sagebrush to establish a monthly ASUN update column, and now sits as a non-voting member of the Student Media Board. However, according to Wolf Pack Radio General Manger, Nick Rattigan, Malin hasn’t necessarily “followed through,” with some of the other student publications. According to Malin, previous ASUN vice presidents have not fulfilled the role of coordinating with student media outlets.
“I have had one (in-person) meeting with Elliot this semester,” Rattigan said,“which is one more than I’ve had with the last vice president.”
At his first questioning, Malin said that his “obligations have been made … painfully clear tonight.” His goal for the rest of his term is to clarify the role of vice president and fulfill his obligations in the future.
“We have the potential to do a lot of good,” Malin said. “We just need to sometimes stop taking ourselves so seriously and realize that we’re college students and we need to do these things for the students.”