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From the Editor’s Desk: Student Government Matters

At the end of my first year at YU, blissfully unaware of the role student leadership plays on campus, I voted for the candidate who gave me a freshly grilled hot dog free of charge. The rest of my ballot was left blank. I’m not bringing this up because I am proud of it, rather because I feel it is a fairly typical story. The fact is, there are many students who are unfamiliar with the numerous ways in which the various student government councils enrich life on campus, and thus fail to recognize the importance of the annual student government election. Let’s change that. 

Student government is serious business. The four major councils on the uptown campus—YSU, YSCA, SYMSSC, and SOY-JSC—play a significant role in orchestrating the flow of life on campus. Whether they plan an event themselves—as is the case with major events like the annual Chanukah concert and Yom Ha’atzmaut festivities—or sanction the existence of clubs, there are no events on the uptown campus that take place without the approval of these councils. Jewish themed events and clubs are regulated by SOY-JSC, business themed clubs and events by SYMSSC, academic clubs and events by YCSA, and non-academic, campus-wide clubs and events by YSU. These councils are given a yearly budget of tens of thousands of dollars to work with. They, and they alone, are responsible for the allocation of these funds. They, and they alone, determine whether or not the portion of our tuition money meant to enhance our collegiate experience is money well spent.

Yet, the responsibilities of student government hardly end there. Even if you have never gone to an event, chagiga, or enjoyed Thursday night chulent on campus, you have no doubt benefited from the hard work of student leadership in countless other ways.

Take, for example, the Student Life Committee (SLC), whose members are appointed by elected YSU officials. In the past year alone, the SLC has successfully lobbied for all students on the uptown campus in countless ways. They convinced the school to open the pool on Fridays; they introduced a single meal Shabbat ticket option in the cafeteria; they introduced the possibility of wireless printing on campus from any network; they fought a policy which would barr off-campus students from sending packages to Productions. It is crucially important that students have a voice on matters of campus life. Student representatives fill such a role.

In the upcoming year, student government will be streamlined in numerous ways in order to make it even more efficient at what it does. Extraneous positions will be eliminated, ensuring that only the most committed students pursue positions on councils. Moreover, in a bid to increase the student body’s influence over academic decision-making processes, there has been an amendment proposed to the school’s student constitution which would give YCSA the expanded role of reporting to the Dean of Yeshiva College and representing the student body with regards to all academic issues. In the early days of the new curriculum, there are numerous kinks that need to be fixed. As a primary ingredient of the educational exchange, students must play a role in this process.

According to graduating senior and current YCSA President, Adam Zimilover, “We see these changes as necessary for the optimal functioning of student council. We implore all students to vote for the amendment to improve the experience of future Yeshiva University students.” Given the potential for student leaders to make a profound difference in this school, I urge all readers with a vote to treat this election seriously. Let’s make YU a better place for its students by voting for the most qualified and committed candidates.