By: Josh Nagel  | 

From the President's Desk: YCSA

The student council presidents thank The Commentator for offering us this regular column to update the student body on Student Government’s activities, share our thoughts and goals for the future, and contribute to a dialogue about issues on campus. We hope this window into Student Government inspires students to engage with life on campus.
For those unaware, the Wilf Campus Student Government consists of four undergraduate student councils whose presidents work together to create a vibrant student experience. The Yeshiva Student Union (YSU), headed by president Noam Safier, represents the extra-curricular life for every undergraduate male; Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY), headed by president Tuvy Miller, represents the religious life for Wilf Campus students; Sy Syms School of Business Student Council (SYMSSC), headed by president Josh Teller, represents the academic interests of the male students of the business school; and the Yeshiva College Student Association (YCSA), headed by yours truly, represents the academic interests of the students of Yeshiva College.

Since the year began, we have been working hard to get the day-to-day student life running. Following the directives outlined in the Wilf Campus Student Constitution, the Wilf Campus General Assembly (which includes the 4 council presidents and senior co-chair of the Student Life Committee, Ariel Ancer) met this week to discuss which new clubs on campus to accept or reject. We also confirmed the new appointments for the Student Court, Canvassing Committee, and Amendments Committee.

At the same time, we organized a successful club fair with the help of the Office of Student Life, where clubs recruited new members and advertised their exciting upcoming events. Every student who attended received a free reusable hot cup, courtesy of Student Government. If you didn’t receive a cup, you can pick one up in the Office of Student Life.

Coming up, we have planned in conjunction with the Beren Campus Student Government a meaningful program to commemorate the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. Because 9/11 this year is on Friday, immediately before our long break, we decided to have the event on Thursday night, September 10th, to help us prepare for the day. We encourage all students to remain on campus on Thursday night to unite with the rest of the university for this important event. We hope to see you there.

In our role as advocates for and facilitators of vibrant student life, we sometimes have the opportunity to engage in discussions that touch upon questions fundamental to who we are as a community. In recent weeks, we had such a conversation revolving around the student response to the Iran deal. At the beginning of the semester, a few student groups and administrators asked us to help them in offering students opportunities to protest the nuclear deal with Iran. Like we would for any student group, we encouraged these students to pursue what they feel passionate about and to reach out to other students to join them in assorted protests and lectures.

Yet we were aware that the events advertised on our campuses these last two weeks advocated for only one side and that some of our constituents don’t necessarily agree with that side or are undecided. Regardless of our own personal opinions about the deal, we feel that in this university, students should feel safe to openly voice their opinions on various issues, including this one, while staying mindful of the university’s Torah-informed value system. As student leaders, we felt it our responsibility to ensure that students know they have that space. Therefore, we tried to organize a balanced program that would offer students a chance to hear multiple perspectives on the issue, to help them develop informed opinions, and to ensure that both those who support and those who oppose the deal feel comfortable and included in their university. Unfortunately, due to a number of circumstances, we were unable to organize an event like that in time before the break.

Nevertheless, I hope my openness about our discussions and thoughts has shown you that Student Government wants all students to feel they have a stake in the university. Undergraduate life should teach us to understand differing viewpoints, avoid generalizations, and recognize the nuance in issues. So if there is programming you think needs to happen on campus, to add an important voice or perspective not currently acknowledged in the conversation, approach us and we will help you make it happen. One practical way in which we can all actively contribute to this environment is to avoid using language or tones that might seem to exclude or delegitimize others on campus, and instead recognize that some of our peers might not share our views on controversial issues. As we work together on this, let’s keep in mind that we are all still students of Yeshiva University, healthily grappling with our community’s core values, trying to lead meaningful lives infused with the wisdoms of the world.
Have a great holiday break and we look forward to an amazing year on the Wilf Campus.