By: David Tanner| Opinions  | 

Communication Breeds Community — Letter to the Editor

I was dismayed by recent events this past Sunday, September 15th on the Wilf Campus, in which members of the YU College Democrats held a rally and march on behalf of LGBT students. What disturbs me more than the march itself, however, is the underlying problem that I think is the cause of most, if not all, contentious occurrences at YU: lack of communication between the administration, rebbeim and students.

As The Commentator reported in its last issue, the march “was planned independently of the university,” and without consultation with rebbeim or administrators. Similarly, I can only imagine that the signs seen around campus before the march urging students to “protest” the march were similarly put up by students without consulting faculty members — seeing as I personally saw two roshei yeshiva (and have heard firsthand reports of one more) decry any protest and instruct their students to ignore the march. We’ve seen this pattern reported in these pages in the past, as well. When The Commentator reported on the “Volozhin Yeshiva” mass emails last year, it pointed out that though “YU rabbis were consulted,” the deans of both Yeshiva College and RIETS were unaware of this project to share information about classes where allegedly inappropriate material was presented. As an institution, we seem to be bad at communicating with one another. In a way, the very institutional structure we have supports this sad reality. When there is no centralized rabbinical authority, but rather dozens of roshei yeshiva and rebbeim who themselves disagree on many issues; when RIETS and YC/Syms are legally and organizationally distinct; when students feel the administration does not care about their values, whether religiously liberal or conservative: these are signs of disunity. We tend to speak past each other, not with each other. Perhaps the first step to resolving issues that matter to us is to learn how to speak civilly and sincerely with one another.