Looking Back: Student Congress President resigns after arrest in university bookstore

An Oakland University Student Congress president resigned from his position after being caught attempting to shoplift at the university bookstore in September 1982.

Zachary Shallow, the then Student Congress president, was apprehended trying to leave the book center with two textbooks – one for French and one for Political Science – that were not on a receipt for items that Shallow had already purchased.

“I had an IQ test and I was a genius, but this wasn’t pretty much of a genius move,” Shallow said.

Shallow used a University Congress account to purchase a notebook and a yellow pad in the back of the bookstore, with the items being placed into a bag that was stapled shut. When Shallow was caught, the bag was opened and the unpurchased textbooks were inside.

Shallow was arrested on Wednesday, Sept. 8 1982, and offered his resignation late on Friday the same week.

“I’m going to have to resign…if this comes out, my effectiveness will be hampered,” Shallow said.

At the beginning of a Congress meeting the next week, Shallow offered his resignation, only for the Congress to reject it by an 11-11 vote, so Shallow would remain in his position. 18 members of congress would have to vote to accept Shallow’s resignation in order for it to go through.

“I was unsure whether we were doing things right in reference to the (University Congress) constitution,” said Kevin Davis, a congress member that voted in support of Shallow. “I’m satisfied Congress was doing what it thought was right.”

Other Congress members thought that Shallow should be allowed to resign and opposed the vote.

“I feel he abused his office,” said Scott Martin, an engineering major and Congress member. “I can’t see serving under anyone who uses his office to commit a felony.”

Following the first resignation vote, Shallow resigned again the following Saturday, writing a letter to The Oakland Sail about his reasoning. The Oakland Sail is the previous name for The Oakland Post.

“I have come to the conclusion that the basic issue in the questions which have arisen is that I have committed an offense against the community which I represent an act of wrongdoing – and I cannot expect the university community to accept this action by one of its representatives,” Shallow wrote in his letter to the student newspaper.

At a Congress meeting on Sept. 28, 1982, Shallow’s resignation was accepted. With his resignation, Shallow also had to face being put on disciplinary probation after the shoplifting incident, and was also told to complete 30 hours of community service by the then Dean of Student Life Rosalind Andreas.

University Congress Executive Assistant Alexander Simpson was put in as acting president during Shallow’s resignation, and was elected as President on Monday, Oct. 4, 1982.

Simpson would remain president through the fall, but said that he did not want to run for reelection in the November 1982 election.

“It’s a nice position,” Simpson said, but added “I don’t think I’ll be here next fall.”