11.01.2005

Hello

          Well this is it. I've become one of the millions of Bloggers out there. At this point, I'm only Blogging a diary, because no one knows that YU Blog?! exits, but that's OK. Blogs are just public diaries anyway, so I'm half way there.
            In this inaugural edition of Blog Y.U., the only Yeshiva University student Blog I know about (which isn't saying there aren't any others), I'm going to quote an article I wrote recently for The Commentator. It pretty much frames my thoughts on this school, and might also explain why I'm Blogging about it at all, though who really knows the answer to that.
            Here it is:

"Y.U. sits atop the greatest city in the world.  It provides a thorough Torah education in tandem with high caliber secular studies, like no other institution in America.  Small class sizes provide intimate learning environments and a diverse student body helps to ensure that these environments remain interesting.  This school’s distinguished past is matched only by its hopeful future.

And yet, people complain.

One might say complaints are justified. Over the past three and a half years that make up my stay at Y.U., I have seen the irreplaceable loss of some great educators, such as Rabbi Chiam Eisenstein and Professor Perry Fish.The many complaints regarding Jewish Studies requirements, such as the copious Bible courses required to graduate, come to mind as well.

But people also complain about the food, the tuition, the lack of a co-ed campus, the education; they complain about The Heights, the dorms, and the administration.

People complain too much.

When I feel like complaining about these complainers, I look back at my experiences from the past six and a half semesters and remember that complaining will get you nowhere.Instead of feeling despair when thinking about such problems, Y.U. has taught me to attempt change.

There are grounds for complaint when looking at the few pages that make up the course offerings here, especially when comparing Y.U. to other schools that fill booklets with the courses they offer.I could have complained when I failed to see Photography as an offering from the Art department when I first arrived at Y.U.

Instead, a chance meeting at the 2003 Arts Festival taught me the alternative to complaining. There, I met the former assistant dean, Dean Jesinowski. She commented to me about the high quality of student art at Y.U., specifically regarding photography. Instead of complaining about the lack of photography classes, I pointed out to her that student art could only improve if Y.U. offered more classes in these areas. I told her how I had always wanted to learn photography at the college level. Over the next weeks and months, she, Dean Adler and Professor Lindenthal worked together to bring us the photography department we have today, which could soon include a state of the art digital studio.

This experience taught me about the tremendous resources available at Y.U., many of which are untapped by the student body.I saw Y.U. with new eyes and began to look around for other opportunities that would better my time and experience here.

A second chance encounter led me to another of Y.U.’s great resources, Jim Reckert and Production Services in Belfer. I went to the basement of Belfer, as most students do, to mail a package.I was sending some pictures that I had printed to a relative.One of the many helpful employees there noticed them and mentioned that Production had the capability to print poster size photographs.After much time spent in depths of that building and many prints later, I began work-study there.I value the education I received working there to the same degree as the education I gained from the classroom.

The more I looked at what Y.U. could offer me, the more I saw.

This school of ours actually paid for me to travel to Europe-twice.The Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Summer Travel Program took me and other students to London and Dublin during the summer of 2004 and to Italy during the summer of 2005.Within a traveling Jewish community, we were able to observe those cultures first hand.No other university in the world could provide that, especially at the cost of a mere three credits per class.

I have taken courses with Professor Paul Glassman that my friends at other schools are jealous of, such as Evolution of the Skyscraper and Art in New York, where students go on field trips almost every class to many of New York’s cultural treasures.

One can look at Y.U. through negative eyes, or one can see Y.U. as a place to cultivate into an environment of opportunity. Experiences such as these are open to anyone enrolled here, if they would only look for them.

Those in need of help seeing what Y.U. can provide should take a short trip to the Academic Advising Office, led by the most helpful Dr. Thea Volpe, which can assist students in finding their own vision of Y.U.’s opportunity.

One can see Y.U. as a homogenous student body; we are all Jews. One can also see the amazing diversity here. There are Americans, French, Australians, Moroccans, Russians, Canadians, Brazilians, and Israelis; there are Modern Orthodox, Chabad, Sephardi, Orthodox, Reform and Conservative Jews. Wonderfully, Y.U. can work for all of these individuals. There are several Jewish study tracks available to meet all of their needs.

The “Y” in Y.U. offers unlimited growth opportunity from many distinguished
Rabbis. While the “U” may not be the same co-ed experience found elsewhere, a short ride on the subway can provide the culturally diverse experience some students might be looking for, one that is un-matched by most Universities in the country. When people complain about the secular classes here, they often forget what a unique opportunity it is to learn directly from a professor in an intimate setting. I am friends with most of my professors, while my friends at other schools often do not have the opportunity to meet their teachers outside of the classroom.

Y.U. will be what you make it. Just as a hot air balloon responds to the amount of energy supplied to it, Y.U. will take one only as high as he is willing to ascend. See Y.U. as a “fake” school, one to get through with minimal effort, and the school will carry you along, but only so high. See Y.U. as the unique place it is, and there will be no limit to the varied experiences available here that will affect the rest of your life."


            For those of you who've made it this far, assuming I tell someone about this whole thing, the above isn't the printed text from the paper. That copy has been edited a bit. This copy is just what I wrote and sent to them...
             Anyway, we'll see where this whole thing goes and where it takes me.
        It's been fun so far.


~Grange

P.S. Thanks to Josh Hoizen for tech support.    

7 comments:

tani said...

Good article, Gurnge. I look forward to reading about your deepest secrets and then using them against you somehow...or not, you know, whatever. So...i like what you've done with the place...nice and spacious, a bit dark though, but i'll get used to it. Keep on Bloggin'. Blog On.

Danny the Manny said...

Big fan of yours stemming back to the literature with Kavanaugh days.

Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I remember really liking the article. Some of us, believe it or not, actually struggle with the workload. But I agree that if we work hard, YU will be what we make it.

Menachem Butler said...

You're not the only YU student with a blog!

Marc said...

There are shortcuts in every college, and there are slackers in every college. But I think only here at YU is ther actual pressure to take the easy way out. The attitude so prevelant among students that going to YU is somehow cheating the system- attending a Top 50 college with the knowledge that in truth academic standards are less rigorous- forces many students to actually exploit the system or find themselves alone in pursuing an education.
A new attitude of intellectual engagement is something I personally believe would reshape how students approach their time here at YU, but there are no signs that is coming any time soon.

Doost said...

i don't think there are reform kids at yu.

josh becker said...

that's a good article with a lot to talk about. I must confess that in life it is so easy to complain-and i am very guilty of this. I admit it, complaining is fun. Especially for me. But you are very right that you can really tun things around.
Often (but not always) the worse a situation is, the better it can become, b.c you can take the weaknesses and turnt hem into strengths. Example- The smaller the school, the more intimate the classes. The crappier the neighborhood, the more exclusive the "oasis" of normality in that neighborhood is. The less girls there are, the more insane and crazy guys can act.
Alex showed us that by inquiring rather than complaining, one can create a new photography department, get a better weight room, go to Europe for free, or even institute a radio station. By inquiring and having alittle initiative, one can really turn things around.(once i learnt this, my life has changed dramatically, and i am now in a place i never thought i would be...) It is a wonder that no one has done this with the food.