New Student Committees On Wilf Campus
The Office of University Housing and Residence Life on the Wilf Campus will establish a “Resident Council” commencing in Spring 2019. According to Director of University Housing and Residence Life Jonathan Schwab, the purpose of the council will be to “serve as an important sounding board for new ideas and initiatives, give helpful feedback, and raise issues that need our attention.”
Elections for the Resident Council will either be held at the end of the fall semester or at the beginning of the spring semester. The elections will be building-wide. Each of the three residence halls will be electing two representatives. In addition, the Head Resident Adviser of each building will choose an additional person to sit on the council. The total number of representatives on the Council will be nine.
The Council will not be making any policy decisions regarding housing. However, “they can voice the feelings of students they represent by agreeing with an idea we have, or disagreeing,” Schwab said.
Schwab further stated that he thinks the Resident Council “can allow even more opportunities for students to get involved, empower themselves, and gain knowledge and experience… It expands the number of students who can get involved and make a difference beyond the RAs, and I think it could provide a really valuable learning experience for students who want to represent others, work together and think about complex, far-reaching issues.”
Ben Strachman, the Head RA of Rubin Hall, has a favorable opinion regarding the Resident Council. “The new Resident Council is just another in a string of initiatives in recent years, including the annual housing open forum and weekly open office hours, intended to give residents an opportunity to participate in the process and to make their voices heard,” he said. “I look forward to seeing the ideas, suggestions, complaints, advice, and more that comes from the Council.”
Students such as Dovid Mirsky (SSSB ‘21) believe the Council will have a positive impact on the housing experience at Wilf. “As many Yeshiva University students use housing services, it is important to have additional perspectives during important housing discussions,” Mirsky said. “The ability to talk with students outside of the housing department will allow for students to be more open when discussing various concerns.”
Another committee in development on the Wilf Campus is the Shabbos Enhancement Committee (SEC). The Wilf Campus SEC was officially established by the Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY) in October 2018. SOY President Moshe Spirn announced in an email that Noah Shapiro will be the head of the panel. Spirn anticipates that the committee will “hear the voice of a diverse group of students regarding how to improve Shabbos … to try and enhance the Shabbos experience on campus.”
According to Shapiro, the committee is comprised of five members. These members were selected after they responded to an email sent out by Shapiro which called for volunteers for the SEC. Shapiro stated that these members “represent a spectrum of YU students and interests.” The SEC is currently in the initial stages of developing programming.
A Shabbat Enhancement Committee was created on the Beren Campus in Fall 2014 by Esty Rollhaus and Jonathan Schwab, the campus couple at the time. “SEC’s job on campus is to make Shabbat enjoyable for everyone,” said SEC Programs Coordinator Rachel Zakharov (SCW ‘20). “We make sure that Shabbat runs smoothly and that programming is exciting and interesting for all.”
Some students, such as Tani Polansky (YC ‘19) are unsatisfied with the current Shabbat experience at Wilf. “I think that one of the major issues with the Shabbat experience on campus is that it’s just not geared towards people who are not in the more mainstream yeshiva community,” Polansky stated. “I just don’t see your average JSS or IBC guy connecting to one of the roshei yeshiva’s shalosh seudos drasha as beautiful as they may be.”
Polansky thinks that a solution to this problem is “for the student body to really push for students in the various programs to have authentic positions of leadership regarding Shabbos, to create programming targeted at providing a spiritually fulfilling experience for all students.”
Shapiro stated that the purpose of the committee “is to make small, but impactful enhancements like [providing the student body with] extra programs and interesting diverse guests.” According to Shapiro, these programs will “spice up the Shabbos experience and add a little diversity.”
“The diversity of the guests we hope to bring in and the out-of-the-box programming will hopefully be appealing to a wide range of students,” Shapiro said.
Photo Caption: Morgenstern Hall
Photo Credit: The Commentator
Editor's Note: This article was updated to correct an error. In the original article, Rachel Zakharov was referred to as the SEC President while, in reality, she was the SEC Programs Coordinator.