Defiant to the End, We Hear the Call to Carry On

By: Josh Leichter  |  May 12, 2020
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By Josh Leichter, Staff Writer

So this is how we end another year. Farther apart than when we began, the campuses we called home are no more than a memory, as distant as our arrivals one, two, three, or four years ago. And what a year it’s been for all of us. We found the second half of our year thrust into a situation that, a few months before it happened, many would have scoffed at. I mean come on, a global pandemic causing campus to close for half a year was likely not on many of our lists of how our year would end, or at least it was very far down. But it happened, and such is life. 

Maybe we did make the most of such an unusual semester, trying to salvage any remnant that we were able to preserve of a sense of normalcy, if such a thing ever even existed. And as I write this, I can’t help but crack a smile at the first major event of my time at YU, three years ago, when that Bomb Cyclone hit on finals day, and I watched as people went out in such freezing temperatures to go take a final at nine o’clock in the morning, with sleep crust freezing to their eyes. I remember I was supposed to fly back home that day to Los Angeles and its always-welcoming temperatures in the mid-seventies. Obviously, the flight was cancelled due to such harsh conditions, as was the rescheduled flight half a week later. 

This might be an odd story to retell, but all this begs remembering because if we were to turn back the clocks to those simpler times when we felt like chaos reigned, we’re reminded of that age-old phrase, “This too Shall Pass.” After all, didn’t it? We survive the weather storms like a lone feather that would fly in the wind of the Belfer Tunnel. And we overcome challenges and the obstacles that we find placed before us, whether in or out of the classroom because those too shall pass. I think that this is the defining message of another year spent at YU. That we, the student body, do not roll over and take the hits; rather, we know how to speak up and stand up for change, whether by writing an article, posting a meme, or through infinite Change.org petitions. And we do these things not to ruffle feathers or spark a controversy for the hell of it, but because at the heart of it, we truly care about our school and the people we share experiences with. 

Even if we are here for a short period of time, a true drop in the bucket compared to the rest of our lives, we leave at the end knowing that incoming students are coming to a place that is ultimately better than the state we found it in when we first arrived. And yes, there were times when some attempts to bring about meaningful change were not completely successful, but to start a conversation is a leap in the right direction. This is not to say that our work is complete, far from it. It now falls to these future classes to pick up the pieces and follow our lead, to continue to build and cultivate the fields of the seeds we planted and the saplings we watered.

And I wonder if this is a goodbye to another year, or if I’m letting the ink run itself over and preemptively start that next chapter with a message to these aforementioned incoming students. Maybe it’s a little bit of both, so on that note, allow me to address both the past and future, as well as the present: To be a student is to be so much more than those finite experiences we all have each year. At the very nature of it, to be a student is to truly make an impact on your environment, even if you never get recognized for it or get to pluck the fruits of labor yourself. Because yes, it was hard at times, and it will continue to be, such is the nature of the world. But it’s how we respond to those challenges that shape us as people and as members of this community. It’s to always be defiant against injustice and fight for a better place for everyone until that very last day that we are students, and even long after our time here. And even when the times are hard, we’ll hear the call to lift ourselves back up from the dirt. And we’ll dust off our clothes. And we’ll carry on.

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