by Shanee Markovitz
Around this time last year, I was facing a serious dilemma: to run for student council or to continue with the clubs I had been involved in?
I chose the latter. The foundation of student life on campus consists of our beloved clubs. They are smaller communities that we invest every best part of ourselves into. The job of an effective club head is tedious, tiresome, and absolutely thrilling. The relationships that one builds in this position are based on values, mutual interests, and a desire to make the school better.
Last year in April, I saw two serious gaps in student life that made the decision between running for student council and running clubs easier. Although I wanted to participate in the broader and wider leadership of the school on student council, I could not ignore the lack of political interest on campus, nor could I ignore the absence of a community for aspiring lawyers (or anyone that likes to argue, really). So I invested myself in two communities: the Yeshiva University Political Action Club (YUPAC) and the Mock Trial Club, which I restarted on campus with my co-President.
Running these two clubs has given me invaluable insight into what works here at Yeshiva University and what could use enhancing. It has also allowed for me to grow in immeasurable ways: in my patience; in my ability to push for a bigger picture; and in my ability to connect with my peers, the student body. And now that the gap does not exist, now that the most competent and capable people are committed to continuing the growth of these communities, there is no serious dilemma this year. There is no dilemma at all. I decided to run for student council.
I learned an important lesson: our campus needs some serious CPR. Our larger Beren community needs better access to Communication, Pathways, and Relationships. And this is why I decided to run. I want to partner with the student body to bring about this change and to make us stronger, more cohesive, and equipped to grow ourselves and our smaller communities.
Every once in a while, someone posts a negative, complaint-oriented post in Stern in the Know (usually about food). Everyone comments and reacts with angry faces and capitalized support. Where do these dissatisfactions travel? Do they go beyond the computer screen? Our campus needs better communication. We need surveys regularly, the information from which needs to be used to advocate on behalf of the student body.
Almost two years into being at Stern College for Women, I was invited to attend an evening for club heads. The ability to connect with peers in the same position as me was refreshing and the insights they shared with me were helpful in moving forward with my own clubs. These meetings need to be facilitated more frequently, with open forums for those that want to participate in our self-governance and one on one options between students that want to be heard and their democratically elected president.
Communication is the crux of any relationship. I have experienced this time and time again with my co’s, my board members, and my friends on campus. When I have failed in my communication it has made me better for the next time. You should expect nothing less from me as student council president than my full attention and constant focus on bettering our communication on campus.
This year I was able to send students on various retreats that focused on the America-Israel relationship. I sent students to AIPAC’s Latin Student Retreat and Progressive Student Retreat. Both students came back with exciting reports. Both mentioned “I have never had the opportunity to do something like this through Yeshiva University.” I am not a Latin student, nor do I identify as extremely progressive. But that does not matter. No matter our difference in views, I always respect each person. Above that, I go out of my way to find specific pathways for each person; pathways that feel comfortable and exciting, pathways that help us come together at the end of the day because we support one another.
This campus needs more diversity in its events that cater to all students, and that should be a critical focus. As President of SCWSC, I would also create workshops for new clubs, so that each has a fair shot at success, since each club is its own unique pathway. I would work to support class president staring at the beginning of the year, so that they can be a pathway for the class to feel connected as well. I would work on exciting events- on Chagigas and Yoms and new, innovate programming- as they are important pathways.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, relationships. As much as humanly possible, I have worked hard to make relationships here at Stern College, my home for three years. Relationships with professors, relationships with members of the administration, and relationships with the loveliest of friends. Through my clubs I have built strong relationships, and this is a lens through which I view the world. This is the lens I aim to bring with me to student council.
On the one hand, we need to facilitate connections between each other through exciting events and opportunities. We need to strengthen relationships between clubs and smaller communities. But we also need to build relationships outwards. Just last month I received the AIPAC Advocate of the Year award with my YUPAC Co-President, Jake Benyowitz. Although the award was in my name, I accepted it on behalf of Yeshiva University. This was the first time our university won this award. It served as a progress report for our outreach to elected officials all over the United States, many of which I brought to campus. We are blessed to be part of greater communities: the greater New York community, the greater Jewish community, and the greater community of human beings that want to make a change in this world.
Let’s reach farther, let’s focus on bringing people together. Let’s represent Yeshiva University outside of these four walls. Let’s go there physically, through trips and explorations, and let’s bring the community to us.
I am running for Stern College for Women Student Council President next year because I believe in this mission. I will open my heart to this student body even more. I will make space to hear you and to fight for you. I will work tirelessly to enhance our communication, to create and strengthen pathways for each and every student, and to continue to build strong, beautiful relationships. Let’s do it together.