Sunday, January 27, 2008

Culture on Campus?

Sure, it'd be great to have a dynamic, exciting, artistic, colorful, creative, and inventive vibe on the Wilf campus, but:
a. YU students are super-busy.
b. Campus architecture, design, and location foster a veritable tradition of cultural and creative paralysis.

Nonetheless, I can't imagine that the thousand-plus undergrads on campus lack enough funny, inventive, artsy, and willing members to recreate that "aura of cool" so inherent in the secular campus experience. No, if YU was a summer camp - or a typical university - these figures would combine to forge a fun, creative, and exciting place to be. If we can recognize and chip away at the two aforementioned issues, perhaps we can bring a bit of that self-expression and culture up to Amsterdam. We need easy, low-maintenance access to creativity that can change the architectural landscape of an otherwise beige-grey environment.

1. Take advantage of elevator space. Hang up an Ads-Free corkboard in each dorm elevator, where students can post whatever random things they like: pictures, interesting articles, top 10 ways you know you're in R. Rosensweig's shiur, comic strips, Halacha Yomit, etc. Put up a dry-erase board and see what emerges. The point: give YU students easy, time-efficient, right-in-front-of-me opportunities for self-expression.

2. Wall + Movie = Culture. Once a week, sometime between 10 pm and midnight, whip out a projector and play a film on the wall of a central, high-traffic area - say, the Morg lounge. Note the word "film" in place of "movie"- it should be the type that adds to the campus culture, not detracts from it. Granted, that's a subjective call, but I think Stu Halpern is both hip enough and aware enough to pull it off. True, few have time for a weekly flick, but most have fifteen minutes here and there to catch the end of a hockey game: lets put our ADD to good use! We can create a cultural vibe and fashion an enjoyable, thought provoking, and horizon-expanding opportunity.

3. Turn the lawn into The Lawn. As of now, our precious little green space goes to little actual or aesthetic use. How about a winding path, curving its way between patches of rose and statue: a bust of Belkin, a form of Lamm, a statue of the Rav, a quote from the Rambam, a poem from Ibn Ezra! Think that's too much? I'll settle for flowers, a fountain, and an inscription about Torah u-Madda.

4. Picture YU without pictures of YU. Photographs of YU students belong in brochures; on campus itself it is tacky and uninspiring. Public art should force us to stop, consider, maybe even smile- to think of anything but ourselves. Let's use those open spaces to construct a colorful, interesting, proud environment.


Immanuel said...

I agree with the first suggestion. Cork boards on elevators go along way, what with the tremendous amount of time many students waste on elevators. Maybe even something interesting outside elevators since we probably spend even more time waiting for them.

Anonymous said...

The statues on the lawn would be quite the source of controversy in this yeshiva, there is actually a zodiac in the entrance to zysman that is almost always covered with a floor mat for similar reasons.

Although in principle i agree,

Still, if you take away the lawn, where can we toss around a frisbee in the sun.
And dont say tenzer gardens it's too small, and too windy.

Maybe turn the outdoor basketball courts into a garden!!!?

Ibn Avraham said...

Bernard Henry-Levi once claimed that Los Angeles could never be a true city (unlike Paris, New York, or San Fransisco) for it lacks a distinct center. The same is true for a college campus: without a quad, monument, or square at its crossroads, the campus lacks a soul.

So let the frisbee players (myself included) have Tenzer. The center walkway of the university should be epic and beautiful.

Of course, my thoughts on the matter won't lead to such a dramatic change - but shouldn't this at least be what we want?

Tzvi F. said...

"a bust of Belkin, a form of Lamm, a statue of the Rav"

This would be the absolute coolest thing ever.

Anonymous said...

"a bust of Belkin, a form of Lamm, a statue of the Rav"
maybe because that's an issur deoraisa? or is that being too optimistic?

Tzvi Feifel said...

"maybe because that's an issur deoraisa?"
Anonymous February 11, 2008 5:04 PM

It's a machlokes as to what exactly is prohibited under "lo ta'ase licha pesel..." But thanks for making such an act seem unanimously assur.