Know your Representatives: An interview with YSU President Zach Sterman
I sat down with Yeshiva Student Union President, Zach Sterman, in an exclusive interview to glean what we may expect from him and the student government this ongoing year.
Judah Stiefel: What are your main responsibilities in your role as student council president, and how does this fit with your idea of what you should be doing?
Zach Sterman: My largest job involves the technical aspects of managing the student council. Ensuring that these events are logistically planned, well funded, and fun. I also work on managing the budget, approving clubs, etc. Those are the more technical responsibilities. I feel that in past years what the student council hasn’t focused enough on is their role as the representatives for the student body to the school’s administration.
JS: In what ways do you see yourself as a representative of the student body?
ZS: Are the voices of the students being heard by the administration? There needs to be a channel of communication between the student body and the administration, so hopefully we’re going to establish more channels that they can speak through.
JS: How much time each week do you put into the job of operating as the President of YSU?
ZS: In terms of meetings we have at least one weekly meeting...between all of the Wilf Presidents and the Chairman of the student life committee, but there are a lot more meetings that come up. There are meetings with the canvassing committee, meetings with club heads, meetings with the other presidents to discuss things… And then there’s a lot of time spent just thinking about these things, and trying actively to think of things that we can add and things that they can do differently.”
JS: You gave a speech in a cafeteria the other night during Shabbat dinner (first in shabbat of the Fall 2017 semester). Many felt it was empowering while others felt it was a bit out of the ordinary. Could you reiterate the message you gave that night? Why did you feel the need to quote the Buddha?
ZS: As for quoting the Buddha, I felt that it was a very relevant quote. It was less about making a controversy and more about making a point. The quote was, “Use these lessons not to be a better Buddhist, but rather to be a better version of yourself.” What i meant was, that you should extract the good from everything that is around you. I felt this message was very relevant to YU students. When you’re in college and when you’re in YU you’ve got these two worlds of Torah and of Maddah and secular studies that we’re trying to bring together at YU and sometimes there’s a tendency to do them both while you’re here but they’re compartmentalized. I do Torah in the morning and in the afternoon I do Maddah. What I was trying to convey is that there’s sort of a way of blending them so that the secular studies that you’re doing, the Maddah isn’t separate but is rather for the purpose of enhancing your Torah perspective. The information you learn is not just in a vacuum.
JS: So now that we’ve touched on the official responsibilities of YSU President, Zach Sterman, let’s delve into the depths of who is Zach Sterman? What are you studying? What do you hope to go into?
ZS: So I am majoring in political science and minoring in marketing. I had an internship this summer in an advertising agency, and I’ve definitely been considering that as a career option. I’ve been caught in between that and taking the LSAT this summer and going to Law School.
JS: You’re known for writing a rather well circulated satirical newspaper on campus, The Scope. Do you think you’ll be able to separate your satirical persona from you more serious role as president, or will the two leak into each other?
ZS: Well I take my responsibilities seriously, so I certainly don’t make a joke of them. I make sure they remain separate..One thing I’d like to add about The Scope... that sometimes gets overlooked is that in the end we are conveying messages in a sarcastic way, in a way that makes people laugh, and almost all the time there is some underlying truth that is serious. So that’s a real commentary on the events that happen on campus. Even though it is something that is by nature funny, there is real content there.