A new job-hunting Web site for students almost cost McGill University’s student-government president his own job. At the end of last week, the student group, called the Students’ Society Council, voted to publicly censure its president, Zach Newburgh, for failing to reveal that he had worked for and received compensation from Jobbook, an Internet service designed to match students from elite universities with employers.
According to The McGill Tribune, a student newspaper, Mr. Newburgh had received an unspecified stake in Jobbook, and also made recruiting visits with the Web site founder to various student leaders at the California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In addition, he made a deal giving the McGill student government one share in the company for every McGill student who signed up. Jobbook’s Web site has a statement saying it has entered into “partnership agreements” with student unions at many of those universities “with the objective of recruiting the best and the brightest.”
Mr. Newburgh did not respond to requests from The Chronicle for a comment. He told fellow students that he has returned any personal compensation to Jobbook, the Tribune reported.
One of the McGill society’s vice presidents, Joshua Abaki, told The Chronicle in an e-mail message that Mr. Newburgh “has lost moral authority to guide the society, the executive, and council, and has brought great disrepute to these bodies. It is further troubling that he is more concerned about Jobbook’s prospects amid all this rather than the great harm he has done to the society.” Mr. Newburgh retains his post after the public rebuke.
Mr. Newburgh, a fourth-year student, told the Tribune that he had signed a four-month confidentiality agreement with Jobbook founder Jean de Brabant, a lawyer and a McGill alumnus, to help him recruit students at other schools. He described signing the confidentiality agreement as a “poor judgment call,” and said he told the executive committee of the student group about his involvement as soon as the confidentiality agreement ended. Mr. Newburgh also said his actions have not harmed the student group, and noted that if the Web site takes off, the Students’ Society Council stands to benefit financially and McGill students stand to benefit from job prospects.