Presidential Debates Provide Little Clarity
As the school year winds to a close, with finals beginning in just over two weeks, preparations for next year have already begun on the Wilf Campus with campaigns for Yeshiva University’s various student governments. While the list of positions needed to be filled is exhaustive, the elections race focuses on the four main student governments, including Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY), Yeshiva Student Union (YSU), Yeshiva College Student Association (YCSA) and Sy Syms School of Business Student Council (SYMSSC). SOY also includes positions for representatives for each of the four Undergraduate Torah Studies programs.
Last week, potential candidates for each of YU’s student governments scoured throughout the campus asking students to sign in support of their campaign in order to meet the required quotas required for all candidates. During this period, election policy forbids potential candidates from campaigning.
This week, the only week of campaigning in anticipation of next Monday’s Election Day, had a quiet start. There were few signs of campaigning throughout the Wilf Campus. Some candidates posted flyers in the dorms, while others handed out candy to win the favor of their fellow students.
Election campaigning met its supposed climax on Tuesday evening at the organized presidential debates. During Tuesday’s dinner break, candidates running for president in YSU, YCSA and SYMSSC met in the Rubin Shul to showcase their opinions and goals for the YU student body. Though under seventy students attended the event, the debate enabled those who were in attendance to distinguish between the candidates.
The debate, lead by Shield News anchor and Wilf Canvassing Committee Chairman, Binyamin Segal, began with a short introduction by each of the candidates. The YSU presidential candidates, Noam Safier and Daniel Lazarev, spoke first and were followed by SYMSSC candidates Sammy Schwartz, Joshua Teller and Michael Osborne. The YCSA candidates, Joshua Nagel and Yaakov Sultan, were introduced last.
Each candidate was only allotted a minute to speak. These brief outlines, however, were not not fully capable of thoroughly introducing each candidate’s campaign platform and ideas.
The debate continued with Segal asking a question which each candidate took a turn to answer. The debate concluded with a few questions from the audience, including inquiries from current YSU president Natan Szegedi and YCSA president Shai Berman.
YSU, belonging to no specific undergraduate college, is tasked with planning and implementing school-wide events and promoting and enabling club activities. Both candidates for the YSU position boasted their involvement on campus and ensured that they will push to bring more high quality events. Safier commented that YSU has already sponsored many great events on which students do not capitalize upon. He hopes to get more students involved and attending campus events in order to enhance morale within the student body.
In a university with a diverse Jewish student body, the YSU board aims to serve all groups within Yeshiva University fairly. Lazarev pointed out that the many different student groups often fail to integrate and cooperate and promised his efforts in enhancing community interdependence.
Additionally, the YSU board members serve as advocates for the entire undergraduate student body and acts as a liaison to the university administration. Both candidates acknowledged that this has been an issue the student body has struggled with over the years. Both look to ensure that the student body is kept in close contact with the administration.
According to the YSU mission statement found on YU’s website, “The goal of YSU is to infuse the Yeshiva University experience with enthusiasm and excitement, creating a vibrant and fun environment for all students.” YSU presidential candidates, Safier and Lazarev, both aware of the lack of campus excitement, hope to improve this quality on campus.
YCSA shares many of YSU’s goals, but, as YCSA presidential candidate and current Secretary/Treasurer Josh Nagel pointed out, “the goal of YCSA is to help students take control of their own academic experience.” Agreeing with Safier and Lazarev, both Nagel and his opponent Yaakov Sultan expressed concern for communication between the student body and administration.
Acknowledging the many rumors regarding the uncertain state of the Core’s secular and Judaic requirements, both Nagel and Sultan promised to work on obtaining clarity from the administration about the Core.
Nagel was one of only a couple presidential candidates at the debate running with past experience on the various student governments, along with Lazarev’s prior experience as class representative in his sophomore and junior years. Nagel assured the audience that his experience will enable him to run an efficient board. Sultan, however, countered with details of his own experience, speaking of his current presidency of the Political Science Society.
The SYMSSC presidential candidates spoke of greater communication between the administration and student body. Schwartz promised he would be a successful member of the council, with prior experience as the head of the Marketing Club. Each of the candidates promised to help find students better internships. Joshua Teller spoke of greater cooperation between the Yeshiva College and Sy Syms School of Business communities in order to enhance campus morale.
The SOY presidential debate, which featured five candidates including Darren May, Tuvy Miller, Avi Levy, Nissan Holzter and Avi Hirt, met Tuesday night in Glueck. While the SYMSSC, YCSA and YSU debates discussed the same topics, the SOY debate focused on slightly different issues. Among its various responsibilities, SOY is tasked with ensuring religious satisfaction on the Wilf campus. One of the main issues discussed during the debate was that of integration among Yeshiva University’s various Undergraduate Torah Studies Programs, which include the James Striar School (JSS), Isaac Breuer College (IBC), Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program (SBMP), and Mazer Yeshiva Program (MYP). Candidates acknowledged the lack of inter-program integration and all promised to focus on this issue next year. Tuvy Miller reminded the student body that the key to successful coexistence is “balance and compromise,” stressing SOY’s responsibility in catering to the religious needs of every single student on campus. Miller currently serves as Vice President of MYP and is the only candidate for president of SOY with experience in student government. The candidates also discussed the necessity of improved “in-Shabbos” programming. Avi Hirt suggested that all Shabboses are given programming of equal stature.
With only a week of campaigning, it will be hard for many of the students here at Yeshiva University to make an informed decision when voting on election day. None of the candidates have so far campaigned very much, leaving their platforms a secret from the public. Many students looked to the debate to shed some light on the candidates’ platforms but were met with disappointment, as the candidates discussed general ideas and avoided specific views. While a debate is a promising opportunity for these candidates to showcase their ideas, this debate accomplished no such thing. The candidates were never given enough time to really divulge on their ideas and goals. They stuck to the catch phrases, such as “communication” and “community” and expected us to vote for them based on that alone.
That said, perhaps the rest of the week will clarify their views. Good luck on voting day, next Monday, May 4th!