I am an undergraduate student research assistant in the US and have been working with my PI for less than a year. Recently my PI asked me to help her in hiring other student research assistants. Not only did I think it was strange that I was being asked to hire fellow undergraduates, but she also asked for my help in hiring graduate students. To make matters more confusing, she had a meeting with myself and other coworkers where they danced around outright telling me I had to do it, but also gave me no other tasks to do- quid pro quo if you will. They also spent plenty of time telling me that they had talked to others in the office- other higher ups- that it was ok for undergraduates to do hiring.
However they then proceeded to tell me that in order for me to help we have to use non .edu emails, non work emails. They eventually gave me the resumes using a usb drive. I coalesced in agreeing to do this because although it was sketchy how they were going about this, I didn't see the harm. Just silly university regulations that were hampering progress. I realize I should've told them no from the beginning, but we were reaching deadlines in other areas and we are short staffed, and although its not my fault that my PI has had numerous people join and quit before and after I joined, I gave in to their pressure to help as deadlines approached. The deadlines passed and I helped with the initial screening, but now they again asked for more help in vetting the candidates further. I politely told them no.
I suppose there is an ethical question here of, is this ok? Should an undergraduate be hiring other undergraduate or graduate students to do work on research grants? Will I be in trouble for going along with this? Why did my PI make this seem wrong to do, and actively encourage dodgy behavior? And if its wrong, is it wrong at the university, state, or federal level?