By Adina Bruce, Features Editor
For a school that prides itself in being a beacon of the Jewish community, community is a surprisingly hard thing to find at Yeshiva University. The short turnover rate of students, due to the shortened number of years that people attend YU, creates an environment where it can be hard to feel like you are part of something larger than yourself. It is extremely common for students to sail through their years at YU without getting involved in any campus organizations or partaking in campus life. Sometimes attending YU can feel like an academic grind, going from class to class, never making a lasting impact.
While this is an issue that I have personally noticed throughout my time at YU, I am grateful to the communities I have been able to find, and hope that the characteristics of these smaller communities can be applied to the larger university community.
One of the communities that I have felt most honored being a part of this year is the Stern Computer Science department. The establishment of the new computer science (CS) Lab has created a collaborative and supportive environment where I have been able to connect with and learn from students at all different stages in their Computer Science journey. I am thankful for the relationships I have made this semester as well as throughout my years being a CS major. The comradery that is found in the CS lab is something that I will remember fondly as a highlight of my last semester at Stern. Conversations about feelings of imposter syndrome, stress with job applications and the workload of CS classes have been cathartic, encouraging, and helpful. The mix of sympathy and advice I have always got from my fellow CS students and teachers has been invaluable in my journey as a CS student.
More than just a space which encourages connections created outside of class, the Stern CS department has created a community in other ways. The CS@SC Whatsapp group chat is an invaluable resource to current and past Stern CS majors, where job listings, offers of advice and support, as well as memes,are posted by both current students and recent graduates. The creation of a physical space where personal relationships are able to be developed, as well as the resources found in a virtual space, means that I can confidently say that the Stern CS department is a thriving community. I think this partnership of real life interaction paired with a continuation of relationships past the short few years as an undergraduate student is a combination that can be applied to other smaller communities within YU to help students feel like they are part of a community while at YU as well as maintain that connection after they graduate.
A different community that I am also proud to have been a part of is the YU Pride Alliance. In my first editorial for the YU Observer, I wrote about the importance of including women’s voices in Torah learning. My main argument then was that the inclusion of perspectives strengthens the quality of discussion and learning for all. This argument is applicable to many different people present in the YU and Orthodox communities, including members of the LGBTQ+ community. There is, however, still much work that must be done to create a safe space where members feel comfortable enough to outwardly share their perspectives and experiences. Through the work of the YU Pride Alliance events and spaces are created where the value of welcoming all is put in the forefront. I hope that the value of holding space for the existence of others and different perspectives is something that can become more accepted within the larger YU community.
I am grateful to other communities that I have been a part of during my time at YU: the YU Observer community, the Stern Beit Midrash community, the Seforim Sale community, and the Twenty Something Minyan. All these groups of students, graduates and friends have supported me, encouraged me, and pushed me to become a better person. I hope that these kinds of spaces and opportunities are available for all students, and believe that the greater YU community will be stronger and enriched because of increased student participation and connection. Furthermore, I want to encourage students to take it upon themselves to participate in and help create the community they would like to be a part of, as a community can only exist through the commitment and involvement of individuals.