Since Marc Spear became Senior Director of Student Life last year, the office has been working toward a significant transformation with the goal of communicating with students more effectively and improving the on-campus experience for them. One new initiative, answers@yu, allows students to e-mail or call a YU hotline with any questions they have about anything relating to YU. “We get hundreds and hundreds of student questions,” says Spear, “ranging from the history of a YU building to something about dining services to where to get inexpensive textbooks. We always try to get the answers to students in a timely way, and the hotline has really given them a sense of having people working for them on their behalf.”

At the June Undergraduate Alumni Council (UAC) meeting where Spear and his team were guest speakers, they shared some of their plans to enhance the campus experience and heard from the members of the Council about their concerns and ideas. “Alumni can offer invaluable input and we look forward to entering this upcoming year with their perspective as well,” said Spear.

Spear and his team have worked to build a place where students feel comfortable approaching them for ideas, guidance, and to share concerns. In addition, the office regularly leads workshops and training sessions in leadership and budget planning, for both elected student leaders and for those who wish to brush up on their management and communication skills. These workshops impart a sense of confidence onto the student leaders, who run major events like YU’s annual SOY Seforim Sale, and the students know they can turn to Student Life for guidance along the way. “We believe today’s student leader is tomorrow’s Jewish communal leader, and so we are proactive in helping them learn the skills to plan, run, and enhance programming utilizing their own abilities,” says Spear.

Some events planned for the year ahead, in conjunction with student groups, include a Shabbat weekend on September 7th-8th run by the Student Organization of Yeshiva/Jewish Studies Council (SOY/JSC); a 9/11 memorial ceremony; various club fairs to showcase to students all the opportunities available at YU; Screen on the Green, a movie viewing party on Tenzer Gardens on the Wilf Campus; the annual “So You Think You Can Dance?” Stern College dance competition; a Beren Campus “Camp Night Out,” a mock campout complete with s’mores; and the Annual Conference of the Student Medical Ethics Society, to take place on Sunday, October 21st, which will focus on ethical approaches to medical knowledge gleaned from the Holocaust.

 

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