What is Going on With the YU Security Fees?

By: Emily Goldberg Gabriella Gomperts  |  April 17, 2024

By Emily Goldberg, Publication Manager and Layout Editor, and Gabriella Gomperts, Features Editor 

With each and every email that Yeshiva University sends to its students, the ones about added security fees continue to get stranger and stranger. 

In an email sent to the YU community on April 5, 2024, students were once again notified that, “In the wake of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks, Yeshiva University has taken several critical steps to enhance security,” for which students will be charged. This email, the latest of many that YU Campus Security has sent to the student body, comes with another hefty price tag which has left us feeling blindsided and confused.

In the email, Campus Security stated that the “enhanced security… includes a significant increase in the number of guards and personnel assigned to our four main campuses.” YU Campus Security noted that they have partnered with the NYPD, Pinkerton Security, and “engaged” with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) as part of their added measures to enhance campus security. 

These details are consistent with those listed in previous emails from YU campus security regarding the ways they have heightened vigilance on campus. 

However, there is one detail in this email that we could not overlook. The email stated, “To offset the material expenses associated with our enhanced security efforts, we will be invoicing an incremental fee of $750 per undergraduate student starting with the 2024 Spring semester.”

This email seems to be copied from a previous announcement on December 21, 2023, where Yeshiva University stated, “To offset the material expenses associated with our enhanced security efforts, we will be instituting an incremental fee starting with the 2024 Spring semester,” the only difference being the inclusion of a price in the newest announcement. 

Although we as Jewish students are grateful for the university’s efforts to ensure our safety in light of rising antisemitism since October 7, the lack of transparency and communication regarding finances is concerning. Upon receiving this email with that new amount listed, we felt left in the dark by our school. 

A security fee of $375 was already added to 2023 – 2024 tuition on the Undergraduate Financial Aid & Tuition website page and charged to students for the Spring 2024 semester. 

The precise amount of money that students will be charged for added security to YU campuses is extremely confusing to us in light of the April 5 email. Is this $750 fee in addition to the $375 that students were already charged, totaling $1,025? Or will the original $375 that students have already paid be included as part of the $750 charge? 

The Yeshiva University Office of Student Accounts has yet to respond to our inquiry sent on April 6, 2024, asking for clarification about this matter. 

The Undergraduate Financial Aid & Tuition website page states under the 2023-2024 academic year that students were charged $3,900 for “Undergraduate Fees” and a separate $375 security fee for the Spring 2024 semester. However, for the 2024-2025 academic year, students will be charged $4,650 for “Mandatory Undergraduate Fees (including security fee).” Therefore, it is likely, but not yet confirmed, that the difference between the two years’ charges suggests that the total amount of money students will be charged for the added security fee will be $750 for the academic year. Unfortunately, YU did not make this clear in their emails to the student body, and students are still unsure how to interpret YU’s email.

However, the price alone is not the only point of consternation for students like us. 

In line with the concerns of our fellow peers, the constant vaguely worded emails regarding additional fees is extremely anxiety-provoking. “In my experience, it’s all too easy for departments at Yeshiva University to run as independent fiefs that are particularly isolated from students on the ground,” stated Zachary Notkin, Yeshiva Student Union President (YC ‘24). “It is only through open communication and collaboration that we can thrive as a community.” 

Students are frustrated that YU keeps adding unexpected fees to the already expensive tuition. “It’s unfair [that YU expects] us to pay a lot of extra money for the last two months of school, especially when I am about to graduate and didn’t take into account these extra security fees in my personal finances,” emphasized Yaffa Goldkin (SCW ‘24). “It just makes it really hard for a lot of students,” she said. 

Avygayl Zucker, Beren Campus Student Student Government President (SCW ‘24) added, “We are not talking about small amounts here; we are talking about hundreds of dollars that can really affect a student’s finances.” 

Students are also extremely frustrated with these added fees especially considering that many are concerned that YU security does not always adequately do their job. For example, on February 24, 2024, in an attempted arson attack near YU, a man tried to burn down an American/Israeli flag hanging at a kosher restaurant a block away from campus. YU security failed to notify its students of this incident, despite the fact that the NYPD released security camera footage of the crime and the offender still remains at large. 

Additionally, we have encountered many occurrences when we have scanned our student IDs to enter YU buildings and noticed that YU security guards were on their phones and did not look up at those entering. Walking into buildings with distracted security guards is extremely uncomforting to us. “The NYPD officers and Pinkerton security detail [do] make me truly feel that I am being looked out for. I am thankful for these additions,” said Avygayl. “However, when our security guards don’t look up as people come and go from buildings or don’t respond positively when students ask for help, we become less and less faithful in their protection.”

At the end of the day, although we are thankful for YU security and all they do to protect us, the nature and language of these emails as well as the way that Yeshiva University communicates its finances with its students has to change. After being startled yet again by more charges from YU, we are left waiting in suspense, wondering when we will be getting another email about a new charge from YU Campus Security.