Administrative Changes to the Office of Student Life

By: Miriam Pearl Klahr  |  August 28, 2017

In June Dr. Nissel, University Dean of Student Life met with the three Beren Campus Student Presidents to discuss changes for the upcoming year. Tami Adelson, long time Director of the Beren Campus Office of Student Life or OSL had recently left, and they were informed that she would not be directly replaced. Instead, Rabbi Josh Weisberg, former director of the Wilf campus OSL, has become Senior Director of Student Life for both campuses.

The decision was made after various conversations with students that highlighted some of OSL’s weaknesses. Rabbi Brander, Vice President of University and Community Life, praised Rabbi Weisberg as being talented in multiple areas ranging from implementing top-down student life programming, enabling bottom-up student led initiatives and interacting with students facing various types of crises. He believes that having him on both campuses will improve the student experience for everyone.

Moreover, this change is actually a return to a system that has existed in the past and is part of a greater move to restructure OSL. At the Beren Campus, Sarah Sheps will serve as Program Manager, Talia Molotsky as Student Life Coordinator and Yaelle Kassai will be this year’s Stanton campus fellow. All three women are Stern College alumnae and offer a unique insider perspective into the university. Meanwhile, Natan Bienstock and Tzvi Levitin, Wilf Campus Student Life Coordinator and Stanton Fellow respectively, will work at the men’s campus along with Linda Stone, Director of Student Events for both campuses. Though she will spend most of her time at Wilf, Linda will come to the Beren Campus once a week to train the newer staff members. Josh Weisberg will split his time between the two campuses. For now his hours on each campus are not set, with the plan being that he will go where he is needed. Rabbi Brander has stated that the effectiveness of this approach will be assessed a month into the school year.

Rabbi Brander explained to the Observer that it would have been both cheaper and easier to maintain the status quo, since, in the past, there were a total of six OSL staff members as opposed to the current staff of seven. However, OSL’s expansion is part of a greater effort to ensure that the Beren Campus is a vibrant and central part of Yeshiva University. This goal is to be accomplished through enhancing the madricha program, investing more money into Shabbat at Beren, improving RA programming and offering more opportunities for students to interact with GPATS women. Having a shared Senior Director of Student Life is intended to play an added important role in fulfilling this goal through creating more synergy between the two undergraduate campuses “so that neither one feels like a step child.”

When asked if having a Senior Director of Student Life for both campuses indicates a shift towards planning more co-educational student functions, Rabbi Brander avoided a direct response. He said that the purpose is to create more opportunities for students in many different ways. However, he did clarify that having more and larger events at the Beren Campus is a priority, and that this change in OSL is meant to create a paradigm shift in terms of how and where programming is run.

Rabbi Brander also added that is vital that students “have OSL accessible to them at all hours, not only from nine to five, and that Josh Weisberg really gets that.” Beren Campus leaders affirmed that they feel extremely supported and they aren’t concerned by the administrative changes even though both Rabbi Josh Weisberg and Linda Stone have worked primarily with Wilf in the past. Keren Nuegroschl, SCWSC President explained that both Weisberg and Stone have expressed their understanding that the Beren campus differs from Wilf, and that they want constant feedback on how things are going. She also clarified that having multiple OSL staff members has been helpful rather than confusing. When unsure of who to turn to, she can always ask Sarah Sheps, who redirects her if the issue would be better addressed by Linda Stone or Josh Weisberg. Regarding orientation Nuegroschl added that “everything has been running smoothly and I’ve only heard positive feedback from both news and returning students. It’s been a great start to what I am sure will be a great year.”