By Ezra Ratner
My inspiration to write an article hit me as I made my many-times-a-day commute up to the seventh floor. Why? The elevator was broken… again. It is sad, yet important, to note the derelict state of the rooms that some FTOC (First Time On Campus) students, who are required to live on campus for their first two semesters, are forced to live in. Unhygienic sinks and showers, a non-working elevator, and a derelict shul are just some of the issues Rubin Hall residents are forced to face.
One of the students I spoke to told me that their father, who graduated about 25 years ago, said Rubin hadn’t changed one bit since his time there. When I moved into my room, while trying to rinse off someone else’s mysterious beard trimmings that littered my sink, I was startled to see that the water ran brown, and I almost had a mental breakdown that night when I saw the state of the showers. I vividly remember later watching a custodian walk into the bathroom, say “Looks good enough” and leave. Is it so much to ask to be able to shower without dirt covering the floors? Or brush my teeth with clear water? Or, although this may be radical, take an elevator?
In a Commentator article from April 2016, Doron Levine reported:
“Weary-legged students will be glad to hear that the elevators in Rubin and Morg will be fixed – the elevators often require maintenance and it is expected that a significant overhaul will greatly reduce elevator downtime. This improvement alone is expected to cost around $30,000.”
I can’t attest to the state of the Rubin elevator before 2016, but I can attest to the pitiful state of the Rubin elevator today. An occasional outage is acceptable, if not expected, but to have the only elevator not work for the majority of the semester is an affront to the students who live there. If the school wanted to fix one elevator, it isn’t crazy to say they would. I’m not claiming Yeshiva University has an agenda against FTOCs or Rubin Hall, but I am claiming that Rubin has been allowed to “fly under the radar” of the administration.
The Rubin shul is an entirely separate issue. If you’re a student in YU’s IBC (Isaac Breuer College) program, chances are you’ve taken a class in the Rubin shul. The Rubin minyan, FTOC Chaburah, and many more classes are held every morning in the shul. Exposed wires, peeling paint, water stains on the ceiling, and broken and bent chairs are simply a reality in Rubin. Additionally, anyone who has davened at the Rubin minyan has seen the tattered parochet on the Aron Kodesh and the Ner Tamid (eternal flame) that is not so tamid (eternal), seeing as it’s not on.
My theory is that, due to Rubin’s population being mostly FTOCs, there hasn’t been a group willing to speak up for us. By the time people get fed up enough to complain, they get to move to another dorm. Most people have limited to no exposure to Rubin after their first year at YU, and it’s easy to ignore FTOC students who have to focus on adjusting to college life. Some FTOC students, might not even realize there is an issue until they move to another dorm, while others don’t have the courage to complain about it.
It’s time for an upgrade. The Rubin dorms and the Rubin shul need a serious renovation. Just because FTOC students are less loud and perhaps less visible than their upperclassmen peers doesn’t mean they should have to deal with subpar living conditions. Rubin Hall is outdated and falling apart, and while it’s clear YU would benefit from a new dorm, there has been no plan announced to repair or renovate our crumbling, broken-down home.