By: Noam Safier  | 

From The President's Desk: YSU

A story is told of an FTOC (first time on campus) student at YU (me, of course) who spent the nights of his first semester holed up in his room with a computer and a different movie every night. As the HBOGo list of movies lessened, this FTOC wondered if he was missing out on something. Wasn’t he supposed to be gaining more? Where was his exposure to different types of people and areas of interest? Where was his experience of the new and unfamiliar? The semester had just ended when the epiphany occurred: he wasn’t doing anything outside of the requirements of his classes. He was lacking involvement on campus.

Diversity is not a word often heard at YU. After all, the YU undergrad system is composed of students primarily from the Modern Orthodox community of the United States, most having obtained similar educations from comparable institutions, creating similar experiences. Unexpected, however, is our diversity within the framework of Modern Orthodoxy and how we choose to spend our time. There are students who prefer to spend their days and nights in the various batei midrash and students who keep to the library. There are students who support the Democratic Party and those who support Republicans. Students who see Israel as their final destination and those who never want to leave America. And, there are, of course, students whose personalities mix and match the above values and practices. Out of all this diversity of interest arises a plethora of clubs and activities that fall on all parts of the spectrum.

Do you like learning Torah? The Yeshiva has daily shiurim and intermittent shabbatons and fabrengens with some of the top rabbinic personalities in the world. Want to learn how to present more clearly and comfortably when speaking publicly? There’s a club for that. Perhaps you enjoy playing water polo or hanging out in the hot tub and discussing important topics. Have no fear, because the YU Aquatics Society is happy to oblige your interests. Or maybe, you’d prefer to be involved in something more relevant to your major that will give your career path more direction and help you network with established professionals in the field. Almost every major has a specific club catering to the interests of those students. You never know where involvement in clubs will take you.

After the rejection of a (I concede, ridiculous) club application I submitted at the beginning of last semester that was aimed at allowing my fellow club members and I to create and eat sandwiches, I sought out my YSU predecessor, Natan Szegedi, to dispute (half-jokingly, of course) his decision. A friendship was born that later led me to run for office, giving me the opportunity to play a leading role in enabling others to explore their interests as well as serve as the representative of the student body. Involvement on campus can lead to many positive opportunities, be it here on campus or beyond.

Whether it’s political, academic, religious or plain old fun, now is the time to broaden your horizons and get involved with clubs on campus. When else will you ever have this much exposure to so many different ideas and interests?

A true college experience is created by the student acting on the opportunities presented before them. If a student spends 3 or 4 years studying with their head down, they’ll miss it.

My plea is as follows: invest in your college experience. Pay attention to your Ystuds (not an easy thing, I know). Time is scarce here in YU. Make the most of it. We all hope to graduate with a degree that leads to a job, but shouldn’t we be getting more for our tuition? The college experience can and should be much more than that. It’s time to take an active role in our education instead of simply following the educational path that has been laid out for us since birth. The author Jayme Barrett said, “Expand your horizons. Move beyond the normal and mediocre to the extraordinary. Be daring. Ride the waves of life with enthusiasm, passion, and freedom in your heart.” Broadening our interests and exposure is one of the greatest ways to learn about ourselves, our passions and our drives, and will help us lead more nuanced and fulfilling lives, in whatever way we plan on living it. College is an opportunity to be taken advantage of, but it requires an active student to seek it out. Time to start looking.

For a list of clubs on campus please see the Student Organization web page. For questions about clubs or suggestions for our school, please email