A Letter to Rabbi Berman
Dear Rabbi Berman,
Over the past few months, you have met with the elites and the bigwigs, the university stakeholders who run this institution on the macro level. You have conferred with board members and administrators, and presumably developed some impressions of the university that they run.
But now it’s time for you to meet us. The students. We are a patchwork, a collection of young adults more diverse than we might appear. We are inspired and disaffected, wealthy and indigent, athletic and awkward, diligent and dilatory, frum and krum. We are math whizzes and aspiring poets, foreigners and New Yorkers, Gemara learners and atheists, staunch Zionists and complacent Americans, future doctors and more future doctors. We can be amiable, and, no doubt, we can be disagreeable at times. And now we are your students. Though the elegant office that you will soon occupy might be safely tucked away on the twelfth floor of Belfer, your job begins and ends down here with us, in the libraries and lounges, in the cafeterias and classrooms.
In the coming months, as you begin to spend more time on campus and familiarize yourself with day-to-day life at YU, we ask you to make a serious effort to get to know us, the students. We thank you for already setting a positive tone by taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down with student leaders and newspaper editors, and we hope that you continue to reach out and connect with the broader student population. Because as much as you might have learned from trustees, and as much as you might remember from your time as a student and then as a teacher at YU, we understand life on the ground here and now better than anyone. We live and breathe YU on a daily basis. So talk to us, ask us what we like and dislike about YU. Learn from us what makes the current student body tick. We respect good leadership and appreciate those who listen.
As the editors of the student newspaper, it is our job to create a forum for campus discussions and a medium for communication between faculty, administrators, and students. The newspaper’s relationship with the administration and the president over the past few years has varied – it has been strained at times and peaceful at others, sometimes antagonistic and other times symbiotic. This is because a school and its student newspaper are separate organizations with distinct noble goals – they are neither natural allies nor natural enemies. The Commentator is independently funded and independently managed for this very reason. So our diverse group of students will continue to express their assorted views in the newspaper, both complimentary and critical, and we cannot promise that you will love everything we publish. But despite our differences, please don’t forget what we share in common. No matter what we write, remember that we all value the welfare and success of an institution that we love.
Perspective is in order. This is, no doubt, an historic moment for YU, but the institution is bigger than any one group of students and any one president. Yeshiva University is the lifeblood of a community, a culture, a movement; it will outlast its current administration and, with your guidance, will continue to thrive for generations to come.
Congratulations on being appointed our president. May God grant you the strength to lead our community with dignity and courage.
The Commentator Editorial Board