By: Deborah Coopersmith  | 

We Asked, Y(O)U Answered: Is Campus Life All the Hype?

It has been about two months since Yeshiva University reopened its campus and dorms to undergraduate students. For this article, The Commentator reached out to the student body to learn about what factors encouraged students to return to campus, live nearby or remain at home. We also asked if they have in-person classes and how has that experience been, whether there are social opportunities on campus, how face-to-face services have been provided and their hopes for the upcoming spring semester. The responses of six students are provided below.

Rivka Moskowitz (SCW ‘23)

Major: Psychology

Current Living Situation: Brookdale Hall

“I decided to return to campus because I think living on campus with peers is a really important aspect of college life, especially life at Stern. The last few months we have really been living in isolation, so it was especially important to me to live with friends.

“I have one in-person class — Intro to Anthropology with Dr. Jill Katz. This has certainly enhanced my learning. There is no comparison between Zoom learning to in-person learning. It is much easier to pay attention and engage when a class is in-person. 

“I didn’t know my roommates before coming to campus, so meeting them was definitely a great experience. Otherwise, I feel like I have been able to meet people who are in my Zoom classes, which has been nice. I definitely don’t feel like there are many communal or social opportunities; I think that you have to seek them for yourself.

“I’ve had an in-person Academic Advisement meeting, which was very beneficial. All of my other meetings, however, have been virtual. The dining situation has been a bit tough. There is a lack of the variety that apparently usually exists, and because everything has to be packaged, it’s even more difficult. Instead of a salad bar, there are premade salads, which means I don't get them because I don’t like many vegetables. I know many people who are very upset with the dining conditions this year.

“[Next semester,] I really hope that more people come to campus, and that more of my classes will be in person. I also hope that the dining situation improves. If students can use their caf cards to buy food from restaurants, as it used to be, this will give students more dinner options.”

Natania Birnbaum (SCW ‘22)

Major: Biology

Current Living Situation: 36th Street Dorms

“I wanted to come to campus mostly for the in-person lab, as well as seeing my friends on Shabbat. A change of scenery was also a big factor.

“I have an in-person lab, which is infinitely better than it was at home. I also have one class that is partially in-person, which may or may not be that much better. The rest of my classes are online.

“I’m not a very social person, so the interactions that I have on campus are sufficient. Shabbat, especially, is a time I might spend talking to more people in an hour than I did the entire quarantine.

“I hope that people will continue to cooperate with the anti-Covid measures in place so the dorms won’t shut down. I’m fine with all the classes being online, but I really like the on-campus life.”

Seth Jacobs (YC ‘22)

Major: Computer Science

Current Living Situation: Apartment near campus

“The reasons why I decided to return to campus was for in-person morning seder and in-person Shabbatot with programming.

“I have one class in-person and it definitely enhanced the experience. However, it was worth it to return even without this class.

“The Shabbos programming makes it all worth it on top of having access to the beis daily. My hope for next semester is for there to be more classes and people on campus.”

Yael Levy SCW ‘23

Major: Undecided

Current Living Situation: Brookdale Hall

“One of the reasons why I returned to campus was because I felt that I was missing out on the social aspect. What I found was that many of the social opportunities were on Zoom so being on campus didn't add to my social life unless I stayed for Shabbos.

“The YU in-person services have been good. Everyone has been extremely welcoming and accommodating.

“I hope that there are more in-person options next semester.”

Haviva Tirschwell (SSSB ‘21)

Major: Management  

Current Living Situation: 36th Street Dorms

“I returned to campus because I wanted to be able to see my friends and feel independent. I was living with my sister for seven months and my parents for two months and I wanted to feel like I had a home.

“I have no classes in-person, but I do go to shiurim and it is amazing. I am able to actually concentrate and not have Zoom fatigue.

“There are so many opportunities to see friends, whether it’s a floor party or just eating dinner with them.

“There is Covid testing twice a week on campus and it only takes a maximum of five minutes. I feel much safer with it and you can also have Academic Advising meetings on campus. The dining services have actually gotten better and it's been such great food. They have also been so clean and supportive.”

Sruli Fruchter (YC ‘22)

Major: International and Global Affairs

Current Living Situation: At Home 

“The fluctuation in COVID-19 case numbers between last spring and this past summer didn’t help the case living on campus for Fall 2020. Ultimately, I wanted to see the trajectory of where things were going, and specifically if there would be a second wave. Another side factor was that I’m studying for the LSAT now, so I didn’t see much benefit in living on campus when I wouldn’t gain as much from the social advantage, as almost no classes were actually in person.

“Like most things, there’s definitely a FOMO aspect to living at home, but I think that’s more centered around being with friends than being on campus per se. Also, I think hindsight is 20/21 (20/20 clearly isn’t good), so even if I wish I did stay on campus, I don’t think I could have justified that decision at the time.

“Assuming the COVID-19 cases don’t spike and NYC isn’t all but shut down, my hope is to live on campus next semester. It’s hard to say whether or not this will happen given the rising cases across NYS and even in YU, the latter of whom was doing really well for the first month. For now, it’s definitely going to be a wait-and-see type of thing.”


Photo Caption: YU graphic of current life on campus.
Photo Credit: Yeshiva University