Belfer Hall Uncovered
Belfer Hall is the ever-beating heart of the resilient body that is Yeshiva University. Whether or not you are a student in one of the 156 undergraduate and graduate classes that meet in Belfer Hall, it is hard to miss the sixteen-story building that towers above the Wilf Campus in Washington Heights. As a state-of-the-art building full of classrooms, laboratories, and offices, Belfer Hall is a hub for students, faculty, and administrators to learn, work, and enjoy awkward elevator rides with President Joel. But what lies within those walls? Unfortunately, many students don’t take any classes in Belfer, and those who do tend to visit only one or two floors of the building. So join me as we journey through Belfer, because an informed student body is a virtuous student body, or something like that.
We begin our expedition with Belfer’s entrances. There are two ways to get into the building. The first is to brave the Belfer wind tunnel on Amsterdam to reach the main doors of the lobby, and the second is to traverse the literal tunnel under Rubin Hall that leads to the Belfer basement, so long as you follow all of the signs that say “Do Not Enter.” (If you choose to enter the building conventionally via Amsterdam, be sure to wear some kippah clips, lest your yarmulke end up at the doors of Chop Chop.) The first floor of the building is home to Weissberg Commons, where large events such as Orientation Day, popular student club events, and, most recently, the Seforim Sale, are hosted. Also located on the ground floor are an ATM and a Caf card reload machine, for when you run out of restaurant money but still want to avoid paying tax on your Zaidy’s.
The bulk of Belfer is made up of undergraduate classrooms and laboratories. There are several classrooms and lecture halls on the second and third floors almost exclusively used for Yeshiva College natural science majors and Sy Syms business students. Meanwhile, floors eleven, fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen consist of laboratories, classrooms, and offices for the science, technology, mathematics, and engineering departments. It is in these laboratories that students take their late-night lab courses and professors conduct their own cutting-edge research at the forefront of physics, biology, and chemistry. Outside of the classes, students also use the labs for their own independent research.
Graduate schools also have a presence in Belfer Hall. The Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration has offices and classrooms on the fourth floor, while the Wurzweiler School of Social Work is based on the eighth and ninth floors. The close proximity of the graduate schools to Yeshiva College and Syms students encourages younger students to interact with and seek the guidance of those pursuing higher degrees in their fields of interest. Long elevator rides are often ideal opportunities for such cross-disciplinary interaction.
There are also several floors used for administrative purposes. The fifth floor is made up of faculty offices for most of the liberal arts departments, such as English, History, and Sociology. Occupying the sixth floor are the payroll department and Information Technology Services, which is responsible for establishing and maintaining network services, telecommunication, information security, and likely ensuring that we can’t access Wi-Fi beyond the second floor of Furst. The seventh floor is home to the Department of Institutional Advancement, which coordinates alumni affairs and the Yeshiva University Museum, among other projects.
The Offices of the Provost and the Vice Provost are located on the thirteenth floor. The provost’s office oversees all of the University’s academic programs, faculty, and resources. Recent talks of budget cuts have brought into question the actions of the provost, but that’s a topic for an entirely different article. Also on the thirteenth floor are the Division of Science Management, where you can go to become more jaded about the pre-engineering program, and the Department of Academic Computing, which is a great resource for when you want to wait three weeks to get a printer fixed. One floor below, you’ll find the Office of the President, where once per year you can have an intimate meeting to discuss the future of the university with fifty of your closest friends. Also on the twelfth floor is the Sky Caf, which features a salad bar and some other lunch offerings in the afternoon, as well as vending machines available throughout the day.
If this groundbreaking article hasn’t inspired you to drop your newspaper and go running to Belfer, I implore you to reconsider. The next time you get a package from productions, take a detour to walk the halls; you’ll catch some great views of the Washington Bridge, maybe grab a snack in the Sky Caf, and perhaps even spot some of your old friends or professors in the awkward and poorly-photographed portraits hanging in the hallways.