Highlights From Student Questions for President Berman
In preparation for The Commentator’s interview of President Berman this week, we invited undergraduate students to anonymously submit questions via Google Forms for our Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor to selectively ask the President. Of the 93 substantive and entertaining responses that The Commentator received earlier this month, the following are a sampling of our favorite responses.
1. What are you doing to confront the Juul epidemic and widespread student use in YU facilities, including class and the library?
2. Do you see a path to remedy the schizophrenia in the institution?
3. In the long run, would the Modern Orthodox community be better or worse if YU closed at the end of this year?
4. Would you be happier if students chose to go to Touro instead of YU or if they chose to go to Penn instead of YU?
5. You mentioned learning deep deep into the night when you spoke in the Glueck beit midrash at the beginning of last year. With the increase of seriousness of the University aspect of YU, which in many ways has been positive, how do you reconcile the need or wish of many to learn Torah deep into the night when the college workload makes it so hard for many?
6. How do you reconcile offering classes to students that many, if not most, of the roshei yeshiva would find unacceptable?
7. What do you do on a daily or weekly basis - the life of the President?
8. Zysman Hall is one of the architectural gems of Upper Manhattan, yet its façade has been consistently obstructed by ugly scaffolding for many years. Will this situation change soon?
9. Do you think YC [Wilf] and the Beren campus should be the same hashkafically?
10. How do you think the LGBT+ events or lack thereof on campus impact the University’s image? How do you think it impact the yeshiva’s?
11. What have you done to bring closer the Mashiach?
12. What steps should one take to end up in your position one day?
13. Earlier this year, The Commentator poked fun at President Berman for his heavy involvement in philosophy while at Yeshiva College. How does Rabbi Berman plan to improve the current state of the YC Philosophy department, which is at a historic weak point?
14. What is one mistake you’ve made so far in your tenure as president?
15. How’s YU’s financial situation doing, in your opinion? What do you plan to do to improve it?
16. Have you ever been to bathrooms in Glueck? They reek! What is Yeshiva doing to have Kavod Habriyus when we "enter into the world of eternity," the beit midrash?
17. Does YU have an answer for the shidduch crisis, and how can it use both schools to help contribute to a maximum of Jewish marriages?
18. Are you taking a reasonable salary compared to our last president? What are we doing to make YU financially sound and strong? Can we focus on making more parking spots for students?
19. What is the most challenging part about dealing with the YU Commentator?
20. It seems clear that the administration has no plans to act on the Klein@9 saga. How would you advise students who wish to see a minyan where women can speak and be more included to act to bring about this change?
21. Would you rather fight 1 horse sized duck, or 100 duck sized horses?
22. Did it really matter to that starfish?
23. Are you more of an enabler or enobler?
24. A university is supposed to serve as a beacon of thought, change and new ideas. As a university, YU should be no different. One would expect that, as a self declared beacon of Modern Orthodoxy, the university would be looking at ways to offer insight and solutions to many of the challenges the MO community faces Yet, there seems to be no public effort from the universities to solve major challenges that the Modern Orthodox world currently faces, including Jewish day school tuition, LGBTQ inclusion, women’s roles, assimilation, relationships with Conservative and Reform Jews and a growing dissatisfaction with Israel among American Jews. (1) Is the university doing anything to solve these problems? If yes, what? If no, why not? (2) Is it our place to solve these problems? If no, what do we mean when we say we are a beacon and center of American Modern Orthodoxy?