Pres. Mourns V.Tech Tragedy at Town Hall Meeting


Pres. Mourns V.Tech Tragedy at Town Hall Meeting


By: Matt Williams
Posted: 5/7/07

On April 18, 2007 President Richard Joel hosted this semester's town hall meeting on the Beren Campus at 215 Lexington. The assembly was attended by more than one hundred students, and although the vast majority of students were from Stern College for Women, a few men from Yeshiva College made the trek to the mid-afternoon gathering. In years past there have been two events, one held on the Wilf Campus and the other on the Beren Campus. "There was a scheduling conflict this year," said one administrator, and the meeting that was supposed to take place on the Wilf Campus was cancelled.

"To dismiss something as important as a town hall meeting with a simple and solvable scheduling conflict is ridiculous," one student said. Although there was no town hall meeting on the Wilf Campus this semester, the President's office did decide to hold meetings for any interested student on Monday April 30, 2007.

This event came in the wake of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech. President Joel offered his condolences and his thoughts about being charged with the safekeeping of Yeshiva University students. From there he discussed the importance of a learning community and how education should not stop once one is outside of class. His speech placed the meeting in context, implying that all the audience was working toward a common goal and subtly forcing even the most harsh of accusations to either remain unsaid or to be phrased in the best possible way.

The town hall meeting began with an introduction by the dean of Stern College for Women, Dr. Karen Bacon. She spoke about how President Joel is unique among university presidents. "He makes himself available... [he is] a visible presence on campus."

After the president's aforementioned speech, he opened the floor to questions. Many of the questions were aimed at the disconcerting conflict between the university's expansion policy and its lack of available housing and classrooms. The president informed the audience that a new building in midtown will be open in the fall of 2007 and that, although Stern is located in an expensive area, the university has made the commitment to keep them there.

The president also responded to a question dealing with the apparent apathy for the Virginia Tech situation in the Yeshiva student body. President Joel responded that, although it is not complete apathy since there was a prayer rally and a blog for condolences, there is a real and tangible problem which is the strict definition of community inherent at YU. He acknowledged that "within our bubble of Washington Heights" it is sometimes difficult to view those in the beyond as our brothers, but it is a challenge that bequeaths us all to undertake.

The last question that was raised centered around the diverse religious elements within the student body. Simply, should YU be a university for only those orthodox Jews who subscribe to the same understanding of secular studies? President Joel answered that although that is the ideal, the truth is that students who enter college really do not know how they are going to end up. While they search for their particular path, Yeshiva University can provide them with the guidance of some of the greatest rabbis in the world, the shelter of a multi-million dollar campus, and arm them with an outstanding education that can help them understand and appreciate their world.


Original Source: <a href=>The YU Commentator - May 7, 2007</a>


Matt William


YU Commentator




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Matt William, “Pres. Mourns V.Tech Tragedy at Town Hall Meeting,” The April 16 Archive, accessed July 16, 2024,