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Possible Changes to Morning Programs Coming

A RIETS Rosh Yeshiva once said, “YU is the last bastion of sanity.”  One can guess that this rabbi did not have the pleasure of being pre-med at YU. The YU dual curriculum is a challenging system to navigate. Although many students flock to YU specifically in order to experience the meshing of Torah and secular studies that YU offers, no one would claim that the experience is a relaxing one. In order to be successful in both Torah and secular studies it takes a great amount of time, effort and dedication. Therefore, some have suggested that there should be certain changes to the YU ‘s morning programs in order to reward students who are committed to both the Torah and secular aspects of the institution. These proposed changes, if passed, could have radical ramification for the students who are yet to arrive at our university.

Currently, if a person is in IBC and takes the correct classes he is able to earn an AA, an associates of the arts degree. This type of degree is considered far less substantial than a BA (Bachelor of Arts) or a BS (Bachelors of Science).  Therefore, the university staff has proposed giving students who take four years of IBC classes a BA in Jewish Studies. “YU students should be rewarded for the hard work that they put into their morning programs,” says Rabbi Menachem Penner, the Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS. “Our students are learning a great deal of additional Jewish studies outside of their official major, and we feel that they should get recognized for that.”

There has also been talk of giving students who are in the MYP (Mazer School of Talmudic Studies) for four years a BA. When Daniel Yahav, a MYP student, was told about the possible change to the MYP morning program he was ecstatic. “There is so much incredible learning that is happening in the mornings in MYP. To get official recognition for the time and effort that we put in every day would be fantastic.” Additionally, the idea has been proposed to give students who are in IBC a masters degree in Jewish studies, in addition to the degree that they receive in their secular studies. This degree, like the other degrees that have been proposed, would be predicated on staying in YU for a full four years.

Lastly, there has been talk of making davening part of the official IBC schedule. “The university cannot mandate prayer, since it is a secular institution,” Rabbi Penner said, “but we can make it part of the schedule.” The rabbis on the YU faculty have said that they hope that making davening part of the IBC schedule will encourage more of the IBC students to consistently pray in the morning. Some students have expressed that they think this is a bad idea, claiming that having davening in the IBC schedule will cause students to dislike the IBC program, and possibly cause people to enroll in other morning programs. It is worthwhile to note that there is a similar inclusion of davening as of present in the Mechinah morning program, so including davening in the IBC morning program would not be without precedent.

Rabbi Penner said, “All these ideas are not finalized, but we will know more in December when the various faculty members take a vote on the issue.” Whether or not any of these changes come to fruition, it is important to note that the faculty recognizes that there is a great amount of effort and work that each students puts into their respective morning program, and recognition for such work is therefore warranted.  Only time will tell what the YU morning program will look like in the coming year, but whatever happens may have a substantial effect on the student body for years to come.