The Toxic Culture of Yeshiva University’s students

By: Phillip Nagler  |  May 15, 2019
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By Phillip Nagler, Junior Features Editor

 

In my second year of Yeshiva University, I became bothered by some of the common culture perpetuated by the student body. Specifically, I am bothered by the attitudes revolving around grades and dating. It is rare for a student to critique other students in an article. However, my intention in this piece is not to lambaste the student body, but rather to call them out in an effort to improve the greater YU community.

          Let’s start with what is arguably the biggest issue on our campus: the over-competitive nature of students when it comes to getting good grades. My opinion on this matter may be biased, as I am a biochemistry major surrounded by pre-med and pre-dental students. With that said, I think there are some universal trends that exist in every class and major in this school.

          Firstly, students resort to extreme methods in order to receive good grades. The most widespread and problematic method is cheating. I would argue that every single YU student at some point will witness cheating, or will be pressured into cheating for someone else.

          I personally have had multiple students approach me and offer me money in exchange for writing their lab reports or doing their homework assignments for them. When I decline to do so, some of these students have aggressively derided and guilted me, because they claim that I have a social obligation to help them, despite the ethical issues of cheating. This has happened to me on more than one occasion.

          What disheartens me most is that these students wanted me to help them because they wanted to ensure a good grade on their report, not because they were too lazy to complete the assignment themselves. Our student body is so scared of receiving bad grades that an unhealthy culture of cheating has toxically spread on our campuses.

          I think we really need to reevaluate how we think about our grades. Are our grades more important to us than our own integrity? What is considered a good grade? Are we flaunting our good grades too often? Have we considered the feelings of students who struggle with receiving good grades? How does our over-competitive culture affect them? I challenge all of you reading this to think about these questions and how we can make a community where students don’t feel an overbearing social pressure to achieve certain grades.

          Moving on, I’d like to discuss everyone’s favorite topic: dating. A few well written articles have already eloquently debunked the flawed perceptions that co-ed events are designed for the sole purpose of dating. Since there is a lot to say on this topic, I want to focus on a specific point. Similar to good grades, I want to address the unhealthy obsessions student have about dating.

          In my experience, rumors about students dating spread like wildfire, faster than any other gossip on campus. I have not dated anyone this past year, but people have spread numerous false rumors about my dating life. I have a lot of female friends (I’m the only male editor of a mostly female newspaper) and it bothers me that so many people are quick to assume and spread to others that I am dating one of my female friends. It seems that many students are dismissive of the idea that men and women can have platonic friendships.

          Why are we so obsessive over dating and quick to spread false rumors? In my humble opinion, I think it’s because many of us view dating someone as a panacea to all of our troubles in college. If we have a boyfriend or girlfriend, suddenly all of our problems are solved.

          To be honest, I am sometimes guilty of thinking like this. This obviously illogical modicum of thought only became more difficult to fight off as more of my close friends entered serious relationships, while I stayed single. I’m sure that I’m not the only student in YU who wants to feel happy for all of their friends in relationships, but at the same time, is more than a little bit jealous of their relationships.

          I recently realized how truly dangerous these false perceptions of dating are. A close friend reached out to me and said: “Can you tell me I have value outside of who I am dating; it feels like my relationship is the only thing my friends and family care to talk to me about.” My friend’s words both shocked and saddened me. After reassuring them of their value, I initiated a conversation about the types of pressures they feel from friends in regards to dating. We concluded that dating is already hard enough because of the fears and insecurities one has in their relationship, but in YU there is an added pressure because of the highly obsessive and toxic culture revolving around dating.  

          Overall, I feel very connected to and proud of the student body of YU. This admiration is what compelled me to share the rebuke contained in this article. We are a community of strong values and genuine camaraderie. At the same time, every university comes with its own unique set of problems amongst the student body. I think it is important that we recognize some of the problems that exist in the greater student community of YU and make an effort to solve them.

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