By Raquel Leifer, Features Editor
Each month, the YU Observer aims to highlight a YU faculty member. For the May 2023 edition, the YU Observer is highlighting Dr. Orlee Hauser.
RL: Please introduce yourself.
OH: Hi! I’m Dr. Orlee Hauser. My parents are Israeli as is my husband, but I’m Canadian (eh). I earned my PhD at McGill University in 2005 (which makes me pretty old!).
RL: How long have you worked at YU?
OH: I started at YU 2 ½ years ago. Before this I was working at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, so this has been quite a change!
RL: What do you like most about working at YU?
OH: The Students! The students at YU are wonderful and motivated to learn. I’ve always loved my students everywhere I have ever worked, but there is something special about the students here. I also love working in a Jewish environment. I’m used to places where they know nothing about Jews and so it is nice to work at YU and feel at home.
RL: What made you passionate about your field?
OH: I’m not sure that you want to get me started on this… I love sociology because I am fascinated by the way that our most intimate thoughts and behaviors are patterned. Everything from how we choose what clothes to wear and what foods to eat, to our most intimate feelings… it’s all patterned! And when we learn what those patterns are, we can understand society better and even make changes in our world.
RL: Is there anything interesting you are currently working on?
OH: My last research topic, which has been put on the back burner since moving to YU from the midwest during a pandemic, was strangely interesting. I conducted research on something called “the elevator community.” This is a virtual community of elevator enthusiasts who film elevators and post them online for the purpose of entertainment. They have their own culture, slang, rules, etc. A very interesting subculture indeed!
RL: Do you have any advice for students interested in a career in your field?
OH: Yes. You can use sociology for any career that you choose. So, get involved in what you are passionate about early.
RL: What makes your field special?
OH: Sociology encompasses so many areas– everything from elevator filmers to farmers, tzadiks to serial killers. It is a great way to look at society and understand the social forces that create it. It’s not about the individual, it’s about the system. This is a very productive way to look at things.
RL: If you could bring in any guest lecturer, alive or deceased, who would it be, and
what would they speak about?
OH: I have no idea! I’m tempted to say that I’d resurrect the Sociological theorist Durkheim. He was very influential in the field. He did not really identify much with Judaism, but he was the son of a Rabbi, and the grandson of a Rabbi, so he’d fit right in (of course, so was Krusty the clown so maybe that is not saying much).
RL: What is one thing you want students to know about you?
OH: That I really do care about them (even if they don’t earn an A in my class). And also that I learn a great deal from them, even if that is a bit of a cliche thing to say it really is true.
RL: Is there a particular book you would recommend that everyone read?
OH: Other than the Torah? Just kidding… I know what you mean. Not sociology related at all, but I’d recommend anything from Margaret Atwood. I’m a huge fan– and not just because she’s also Canadian.