UB council student rep accused of 'overstepping boundaries'

Ovadia acting within rules but receiving complaints

On April 24, 2014

Former Student Association hiring committee member Rory Miller claims current UB Council Student Representative Daniel Ovadia has overstepped his boundaries in the race for UB Council representative and in SA's hiring procedures.

Miller, a senior communication major who has resigned from the hiring committee after working in the SA for three-and-a-half years, believes Ovadia has inappropriately inserted himself into Minahil Khan's campaign for UB Council student representative, the position Ovadia currently occupies. He also thinks Ovadia has manipulated and taken over the hiring committee from the executive board.

Matt Siwiec, UB council's election committee chair, investigated the complaints and said Ovadia hasn't broken any SA rules or New York State laws.

Ovadia changed his Facebook cover photo to Khan's "Minahil Khan for UB Council" banner. Representatives cannot officially endorse candidates through their current position, according to election regulations. Ovadia can support any candidate he wishes as an individual, Siwiec said.

But Miller still feels Ovadia's actions are inappropriate.

"It would be the same as [current SA President] Sam McMahon supporting Value or Impact when they ran," Miller said. "They stayed out of it."

The Value and Impact parties opposed each other in the most recent SA e-board election.

Ovadia said he never used his official position to endorse Khan and that members have supported candidates in the past.

"As long as Dan has said he's never endorsed Minahil Khan as the University Council rep, what he's doing is technically within the bounds of the rule," Siwiec said. "I think a lot of people blew his up because of the nature of his position."

Ovadia was accused of more than just charges of unethical practices. Miller provided screenshots from a private Facebook group the two were part of to The Spectrum; the screenshots were also circulated among some SA members. One of the messages asked group members to change their cover photos to Khan's banner.

Many members did change their photos, but not all. Miller said he feels although it's not the way the rule is written, an entire party changing pictures is "essentially an endorsement."

Ovadia is quoted in the message saying, "In helping the campaign, I asked for 3 things - 1) fair hiring process 2) seat at the [sic] winners table at Gala 3) all of you to give Minahil the same level of support that I gave you."

"I think written language in casual Facebook communication always has the potential to be misunderstood or interpreted incorrectly," Ovadia said. "I think people who know me, and communicate with me in that informal channel, know that's just how I am with everything."

Some who saw the messages suggested it could be considered bribery. Siwiec ruled Ovadia did nothing that denoted bribery.

"There is no monetary amounts, no gifts being given to these people to actually get them to vote for Manahil or help her in any way for the campaign," Siwiec said.

Miller also believes Ovadia has taken over the hiring committee for 2014-15 SA employees. Miller said Ovadia has "turned into essentially the chair of the hiring committee," and has referred to himself as so.

Ovadia doesn't deny possibly using this term, but believes it's misunderstood.

Ovadia runs the logistics of the scheduling process and created the "Doodle poll" - the online document created to help ease scheduling times for the hiring committee and interviewees. When it comes to the final hired candidates, future SA President James Ingram, Vice President Evan Chen and Treasurer Sade Cadle have the only three votes.

"Dan's opinions and notes will be valued no more than any of the eleven other members of the hiring committee," Ingram said via email. "Each person on the committee was asked to join because I respect their opinions, it would not be fair to any member of the committee to consider one person's opinion more than another's."

Ovadia served as Ingram's campaign manager in April's SA elections. Miller is afraid Ovadia has more power than his role as UB council representative legally provides.

"He's overstepped his boundary and it seems his hand in the hiring committee is whatever James thinks, he thinks," Miller said. "He controls what James says and will whisper things in his ear to have James on his side."

Ovadia is unsure how his input will impact the final hires.

"I think at the end of the day, will James listen to me? That's up to him, but I can tell you right now, his decisions are his decisions."

Ovadia has been heavily involved in the SA for years. He ran for SA President in 2011. He lost but went on to later serve as UB council student representative for two terms.

"Dan is the most hardworking individual I've ever met, and he does everything to help," said Matthew Higman, a graduated finance major who's previously worked with Ovadia. "His entire time here, he's tried to help in so many ways."

Miller said he was unable to find anybody else willing to speak on the record against Ovadia, partially because "everyone is in like a niche group."


email: news@ubspectrum.com

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