From the President’s Desk: TAC — Past, Present, and Future
My go-to fun fact is that I’m afraid of movies.
When I share this irrational fear at a shabbat meal, people are always shocked. They are often confused and proceed to ask me a series of questions.
What is there to be afraid of in movies?
Are you also scared of TV? (Yes.)
Don’t you know it’s contained in a small device and not real? (Really? I never knew.)
A movie is a commitment of only few hours that you can just turn off whenever you’d like. But, to me, movies also represent the unknown.
From my experience, many people watch movies to escape from their own lives. Watching a film about the life of someone else serves as escapism, allowing the viewer to focus on the trials and triumphs of another person, rather than their own. It is precisely this phenomenon that leads to my fear.
When I watch a movie, I get caught up in the suspense of someone else’s life. I worry about their worries, resent the people they resent, and fear that which they fear. I become nervous and concerned about what will come next — I fear the unknown.
While many people love going to see new movies, I prefer to rewatch ones I have already seen, where there is no unknown, when I can predict when the conflicts are coming and how the characters will change, progress, and resolve those conflicts.
That is not to say that I never see new movies. I will occasionally watch a new movie with friends but rarely is it a spontaneous decision. I prepare to see a new movie more than most people prepare for job interviews. I research the basic plot points and try to gauge how suspenseful it is. I talk to people who have already seen the movie. Often, I have a detailed play-by-play ready while I watch so I can read what will occur next just before it does. I’m that person.
After watching a new movie that I particularly enjoyed, I feel a sense of accomplishment. Despite the suspense and nerves that are part of the experience, I’m often glad I watched it and look forward to seeing it again.
I've come to realize that the choices I face as TAC (Torah Activities Council) President are similar to choosing whether or not to watch a movie I've already seen or venture out and watch a new one.
TAC, the Beren student council responsible for Judaic student life and programming on campus, can function like a movie rerun. At this point, the university knows all the cues. They know the stage directions and can recite the script by heart. They know what events will happen at each point in the school year and predictable fun will be provided.
Student life can also be like watching a new movie: thrilling and scary. When trying to start new initiatives, we face uncharted territory. We never know where they’re going to go. There is no script to follow. Like many improv shows, there is no way to know if the new program will be successful or fail completely. However, with this uncertainty comes the great opportunity to innovate and set the stage for the future.
When making these decisions — whether to create a “rerun” event or write a new script — I try to think about the second time I watch a movie and how enjoyable the process is once I've faced — and conquered — the unknown. I realize that what is unknown for student council this year becomes known and part of the screenplay for the following year.
Through my involvement in student council, I’m able to balance these two choices. We often rely on the successes of years past and take cues from their events. At the same time, we strive to conquer the fear of the unknown in order to continue pushing student life at the university to even greater heights.
There is much more at stake when planning an event than there is when watching a movie. While the failures run the risk of being greater, the successes have the potential to be greater as well. As president of TAC I’ve been venturing out into the unknown in an effort to enhance the student experience on campus, and who knows — maybe by the end of the year, I’ll be able to watch more movies.