Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Please Leave

"What do you think the Devil is going to look like?... He will look attractive and he will be nice and helpful and he will get a job... and he will never do an evil thing. He will just bit by little bit lower standards where they are important. Just coax along flash over substance... Just a tiny bit."
- Albert Brooks

When it comes to President Richard Joel's YU, there is much about which to be optimistic. But the gloom of YU's past and the hopefully-progressing-but-still-malfunctioning present casts a shadow over President Joel's reign.

The many new faces at YU are another reason to be both cheerful and sardonic. On the one hand, new administrators like YC Dean David Srolovitz and Honors College Director Dr. James Otteson, and new professors like Dr. Adam Zachary Newton and Dr. Barry Eichler, provide wonderful assurance that the education here - and the college as a whole - are getting better. On the other hand, the steadfast bureaucratic nightmares, medieval policies, and otherwise, forgive the still applicable term, YUness, are not disappearing fast enough.

In the battle between light and darkness which is now playing out across our university, the greatest threat to victory is defection. We have brought in excellent professors, administrators, and students. Will they maintain their excellence, or will they succumb to the mediocrity that continues to plague YU? Will they raise YU to its lofty potential, or will they let the momentum of YU's past continue to trample the Jewish future?

A talented friend of mine, currently in YC, is sensing his potential being zapped here. I am urging him to transfer to Columbia, where he can maintain his learning and excel in an environment conducive to excellence.

I urge the same of any new professor or administrator. If you feel your standards dropping just a bit, the best thing you can do, both for yourself and for YU, is to leave. By dropping your standards just a bit, you are contributing to the continued problems of YU, not its solutions. Be strong, be vigilant, please, please raise the standards here. Make this place great!

But if not, your exit will send just the right message. Mediocrity cannot be tolerated.

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