From the Archives (May 28, 1964; Volume 28 Issue 7) — In Review
Editor’s Note: The Commentator has decided to reprint an article written by a Yeshiva College Student Council President over 50 years ago. The author, Rabbi Dr. David Berger, remains a part of Yeshiva University to this day, having served as Dean of the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies since 2008.
Dean Berger’s article is being reprinted with his permission and, at his request, the following prefatory note:
The author notes with chagrin that he wrote “effected” for “affected,” “implicated” for “implied” and used the exceedingly awkward phrase “deliver their abilities.” This essay, he says, does not deserve an A. Nonetheless, the egregious misspelling does not reach the level of what he wrote as a Freshman in a history exam for a course taught by Prof. Irving (Yitz) Greenberg: “Monophysitism is the belief that Jesus’ two natures were really won.”
What is the purpose of the Yeshiva College Student Council?
The simplest and most direct answer to this question is: to serve as the voice of the student body of Yeshiva College. Our voice, however, must not cry out in the wilderness. It must be directed toward those areas which are most important to us and which can be effected by our actions. These areas are basically four: the relationship between students, administration and faculty; intra-student affairs; matters affecting the University as a whole and problems facing the Jewish community.
In the first area—our relationship with the faculty and administration—we must combine maturity and responsibility with firmness and conviction. Our demeanor should command a respect which will increase the likelihood of a favorable reaction. The student view should and must be heard on all matters of educational significance, for the primary goal of the college must be directed toward its students. Furthermore, it is we who are affected most by decisions about our education, and we should have something to say about our own future. This should be self-evident, but it is sufficiently important to warrant frequent repetition.
Student Council this year has dealt with a number of basic points in this area. The first is curriculum. The curriculum report which appears in this issue should be read with seriousness and care by all members of the University. It has been prepared, revised and rewritten by students with a strong sense of responsibility and a deep affection for Yeshiva.
Guidance is another matter of primary importance. It is our hope that the discussion on this vital, much neglected need will prove to have been effectual.
A third issue in this area which is of the first magnitude is that of free expression on the part of the students in our publications. A number of events took place this year which tend to indicate that a defense of this right is in order.
This defense can validly be made on ethical, practical and educational ground. Any group of mature individuals—and college students are mature enough—should have the right to express themselves without hindrance, provided, of course, that they do not often perform acts of the grossest irresponsibility. Practically speaking, any group in the college benefits from criticism; free expression is thus of great benefit to the University. Finally, from an educational point of view, only such freedom will truly enable students to deliver their abilities to the fullest. Yeshiva’s tradition in this respect is admirable. It should continue.
Among other problem that Student Council has dealt with in the area of student-faculty relations are the revision of the academic calendar of 1964-65, vending machines, the art fee, the student lounge, the rooms on the fifth floor, etc.
One more word on this topic—about Dean Bacon. The Dean holds a very trying position. The day in which Student Council stops having disagreements with him is the day it will have ceased functioning effectively. Some areas of dissatisfaction are implicated in the curriculum evaluation report. But in many issues, he has been very cooperative and interested. It goes without saying that much of what we may have accomplished this year is due in large measure to his support.
The second area—that of intra-student affairs—has, of course, been dealt with a great deal. A required bi-annual audit of Student Council funds has been instituted. An attempt was made to encourage club activities by allocating $1000 for distribution at the discretion of the Clubs Committee. The Student Council Constitution was thoroughly amended for the second time since 1955. A student directory was prepared for the first time since 1960-1961. Co-op, thanks to its most efficient managers, had a successful year. Another important action was the encouragement and developing of the concept of Student Union.
The third area—and it is a most significant one—is that of University affairs as a whole. This is most emphatically a matter of concern for the undergraduates of our college. There are a number of problems and trends in the University which could ultimately pose a danger to the unique nature of Yeshiva. It is very important that the expansion of the University not be undertaken at the expense of the undergraduate divisions, for it is the latter that give Yeshiva its reason for existence.
Erev Pesach Classes
Certain practices, e.g. classes until 3 P.M. erev Pesach, that went on at Einstein College of Medicine this year were not in accordance with the religious principles of our University. To reiterate, we must be our brother’s keeper in the sense of being vitally concerned with any matter that can affect the image and nature of Yeshiva. One more point in this vein. I cannot overemphasize the fact that our continuing as a Yeshiva depends upon the safeguarding of the requirements to take a large number of hours of Jewish Studies per week in all the morning divisions.
Finally, we must recognize our responsibility to the Jewish community as a whole. We hope, for example, to send a petition on Russian Jewry to the student councils of 1500 American universities with the hope that their student body representative will sign in their name and return the petitions to us. In other areas, the Student Union worked on the anti-missionary campaign and donated $1000 to the YU Drive.
I cannot end this article without extending my deepest thanks to a large number of individuals who made the work of Student Council possible this year. First, to those people in charge of committees: Mike Chernik (Clubs), Alan Cohen (Elections), Daniel Kapustin and Shep Melzer (Curriculum), Harold Wasserman (Athletics), David Eisenberg (Student Directory), Bernard Susser and Sam Ottensoser (Student Court).
Maurice Reifman and Jack Levenbrown deserve our sincere appreciation for transforming Co-op into a profitable and successful operation.
Toby Feinerman’s work as corresponding secretary made the job of this year’s Student Council much easier and more efficient.
I should like to express my personal thanks to Paul Schneid who was extremely helpful in filling my petition last year. Presentation of the petition was an enterprise which I found a rather distasteful task, and Mr. Schneid made a very difficult week more pleasant.
Finally, there are three people for whom anything I say would be pitifully inadequate. Suffice it to say that without them, I would have been lost. They are Stanley Raskas, Jeffrey Tillman, and Mitchell Wolf.
In closing, I would especially like to thank the student body of Yeshiva for giving me the opportunity to experience a most eventful and rewarding year.