Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Where Are You, President Joel?

Dear President Joel,

Thanks for your Town Halls. It is so refreshing to hear you speak candidly about the State of YU, to voice my concerns and get actual, real-time feedback. I always leave those Town Hall meetings feeling really lucky to be a part of YU, really hopeful for the changes just coming around the corner. So, thanks!

But, several days later, or, often, even several hours later, I remember that I forgot to ask you a question. Or, another significant issue comes up that wasn't dealt with at the Town Hall. Well, I suppose the next time to speak is in... 6 MONTHS!

You are my main source of inspiration at this often bleak and gloomy college. "YU is pretty good, but it is getting better and better everyday," I tell high school students, "Thank God for President Joel."

Where are you, President Joel? I know, I know, you are busy fundraising and hiring new deans and doing lots of great things for YU. At least, that is what I tell myself. I rarely hear it from you.

You, for all practical purposes, are a myth. You don't really have to exist. You could be a figurehead, a puppet leader not really pulling the strings. Ultimately, you are a pagan god, Joelus, hidden from your worshipers but said to be the source of life, of all things good in our YUniverse.

Where are you, President Joel? Whatever the answer to that question, I know at least one answer: You are not with me and you are not with the students of this university, though we want you to be so badly. You are only with us for two lousy hours a year, where I get to ask one lousy question.

President Joel, with all due respect (the fact that I am writing this should illustrate just how much respect I have for you), Town Hall isn't enough. I would like to suggest another idea, implemented by a force arguably greater than even you.

In a race between YU and Google, Google wins. For humanity, and most probably even for the Jewish people, Google has way more influence and impact. It is bigger, more important, and makes the the world much better. YU has an endowment of 1.3 billion dollars. Google makes that every 2 years.

Yet, Google, even more important than YU, has a blog. That blog tells me what is going on at Google every day. The CEO of Google writes, different VPs write, product managers write. In short, the best and most relevant information at Google, the latest news, the goals, the struggles, the failures (like allowing China to censor Google searches) are all discussed, openly and immediately. People (including myself) comment and get responses. It is the best of Town Hall, 24/7.

If Google can do this, why can't YU? Perhaps a better question is: Google is doing this - why isn't YU? I want an immediate source of all things REAL about YU. When the English department hires a new professor, I want to hear about it the day it happens - I want to be made excited about it. When President Joel gets an award, I want to hear his thoughts on the matter. When a YU employee is screwed by HR, I want to know what is being done about it.

The internet demands openness. It is a wonderful place to give students, alumni, donors and potential donors very positive news about all the happenings at YU - and all the things that we want to eventually happen here. It gives those interested a place to discuss current, relevant issues. In other words, it takes Joelus out of the Forbidden Temple, away from the puppet masters, and into YU, where he belongs.

Where are you, President Joel? Maybe the next time I ask that question, you will let me know.


K.C. said...

Noah, venting is good, especially an articulate version. Would you like to maybe take your blog on over to mine? yusenate.wordpress.com I'd appreciate your help in making a difference.

Aharon said...

Good idea Noah.

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