By: Shoshana Marder | Features  | 

From the SCWSC President’s Desk: Lexington, Wilf and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the Stern College for Women Student Council (SCWSC) created probably the most powerful program for the Beren student body to date: our very own Thanksgiving Day Parade. What began as a complete joke turned into a challenge — could we pull off this large-scale shtick in the middle of Manhattan? We gathered our loyal SCWSC followers, transformed a pushcart into a float, printed out pictures of Dean Bacon, President Berman and Snoopy to serve as our balloons, dressed in our best pilgrim costumes (I may have been the only one to do that part) and marched down the sidewalk of Lexington Avenue, waving at babies and singing the two Thanksgiving songs we knew. Magical? Yes. Inspiring? Absolutely. Uplifting? If the messiah comes this year we will personally take credit. Bizarre? 100%. But as Torah Activities Council (TAC) President Adina Cohen pulled me on a pushcart across Lexington Avenue, I felt the exhilarating freedom of the storied American pilgrims, like I too was traveling the Mayflower to a future of hope and happiness.

We often take ourselves very seriously during our college years, and it makes sense. There is an intensity that permeates so much of everyday life on campus. College consists of a frantic search for who we are and what we want, and then an overwhelming planning stage for how to go about getting it. We are tasked with making real decisions and being independent all while grappling with a newfound sense of adulthood. We question what were once unquestionable assumptions as we struggle to understand the world and people around us. Academic success, internships and extracurriculars are not just for our ego, but can have practical implications for the next stages of our lives. Our actions have empowering but ominous magnitude — like shooting an arrow, it seems that any slight turn will cause our efforts to hit an entirely different target, leading us down a drastically different path.

We’re mistaken, though, when we allow the inherent intensity and seriousness of college to be all-encompassing. We miss out on the holistic experience of college — where discovery of our interests, passions and character is not just frantic and painful but also exciting, and even fun. We have a serious duty and responsibility to take ourselves less seriously at times. These moments of laughter and even silliness are not demeaning or degrading, but give us the freedom to express and embrace an often-overlooked part of ourselves. This awareness is the key to coming to know our genuine selves and the ticket to making sure our next steps are reflective of who we really are.

We on SCWSC take our job very seriously. We understand and embrace the serious and intense aspects of the college experience. Through clubs and programming, we aim to create opportunities for students to succeed in college and beyond and do intense exploration of their presents and planning of their futures. But we also take seriously not being serious at times. Whether it’s bizarre parades, odd emails, club events or just a friendly smile, we want to help foster an environment in Stern and the University as a whole that is also fun, happy and positive. So yes; be on the lookout for ball pits, selfie competitions with the Le Bistro Café mannequin and multiple surprise birthday parties for Dean Bacon. Because not being so serious all the time may just be your parade float to success for your college years and beyond.

For the 30 people who marched and the many more who watched and took part in our post-parade hot apple cider, an environment was (hopefully) created where school was allowed to be experienced as fun and enjoyable, even if a bit weird. Shtick — appropriate shtick (my father made me add that) — can be a crucial element to creating a unifying environment where people feel free to be who they are and explore new things about themselves. So, of course, take your grades and intellectual pursuits seriously. But also make being happy a priority this year.


Photo caption: SCWSC and Beren campus students in lobby of 215 Lexington Avenue before Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Photo credit: Talia Molotsky