Thursday, February 21, 2008

A History Case

Even if it doesn't get published, I thought I would share the letter I just sent to The Commentator with the YU Vent community. The article my letter responds to can be found here.

Dear The Commentator,

I read with much interest and concern Yehuda Bernstein's piece on the YC history major. (It's lone factual error should nonetheless be brought to light: a 39 credit history major is certainly not "by far more than any other major" when compared to computer science's 47 or chemistry's staggering 52!) I found the article important and informative, both as a history major and a concerned YU student. That being said, I feel the author failed to focus on the most disturbing aspect of the Major mess: the Administration's failure to quickly respond to something so basic yet so significant.

Last week, I had the displeasure of informing a fellow history major that the plans he made for his future at YU required major readjustment. For despite the publicity given the history major debacle (yes, lying on the school website and official school forms is no less than a debacle), the administration has not taken a single step to redeem themselves and inform the student body of the change. Not even a dime-a-dozen ystud. Hence, my friend still hadn't known that the two-year plan he had worked out, wouldn't actually work out.

I don't know who's in charge of these things (perhaps the root of the entire problem), but the situation is moving from irresponsible to downright inconsiderate. After a posting on the Senate website (available at, a Commy article, and much general disgruntlement, the YU website continues to maintain dated history major information. Additionally, the Advising Center website continues to misadvise students that history is still a 30-credit major. I won't comment on what I think about the policy change in general, but I will say that what is occurring is lifnei iver of the highest form.

The entire incident questions the administration's commitment to its students. Change requires time, especially on as large a sclae as a university. But when something as simple as changing a few lines of HTML isn't taken care of, it makes one wonder whether the issue is time . . . or concern.

Still waiting,
Julian Horowitz
YC Sophomore and contributor to The YU Vent (


Ethan said...

Well now that we are talking about history I might as well warn all the other history majors of another problem with YU and the History major. According to the YU literature a history major may take up to 6 Jewish History credits beyond the Jewish History requirement, towards their 30, no wait 33, no wait 30... History Major. In the YU literature it says that in order to do this you need the permission of the senior professor of the History department, which I assume means the department head. That being said how exactly one goes about accomplishing this task is quite another story. Last semester I was enrolled in an excellent Jewish History honors course, which happened not to cover the Jewish History requirement. Wanting not to waste the 3 credits I figured I would have it count towards my history major. So I approached the Registrar, assuming that they would know how to go about accomplishing this. Not to my surprise they told me to go to the Deans office, the Dean told me to go to academic advising, academic advising did not know what I was talking about. Luckily a friend who went through the same process informed me that all I needed to do was fill out a general request form with my request and have it signed by the head of the history department, who didn’t know that such a rule existed and wasn’t exactly sure how to go about having my Jewish history class count towards my history major but signed the request form nonetheless. Now a few months later I went to the advising office to sign up for my senior check, Desta, who is probably the only one besides for Richard Joel to actually know what’s going on in YU, informed me that I should probably go and get a copy of the general request form I handed into the registrar last semester, because in her words (approximately) they are "infamous for losing things." How right she was, I approached the registrar today and was told to fill out another general request form asking to see the original request form as they were not able to find it at the moment and would need more time, apparently the original request form decided to walk out of my file and leave the registrars office. As I wait for the registrar to hunt down the original request form I am left to wonder why the history department in YU is confused about their own policies. And people wonder why no one takes YU seriously.

Tzvi Feifel said...

This is why everyone should be Music majors...

Jew from the Desert said...

we have a music major at YU?!

Tzvi Feifel said...

There are at least 3!