June 20, 2024
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June 20, 2024
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Finding Beauty on the YU Campus, Even Now

Every senior in college has a set of expectations. Students expect that their last year of college will be filled with vibrancy, opportunities and unlimited freedom. This year, those expectations have shifted tremendously. To put it mildly, being a 21-year-old during a global pandemic has not been easy.

I could never have anticipated the series of events that ultimately unfolded during these last nine months, after abruptly leaving New York City to go back to my hometown in California. The tragedy and uncertainty around all my plans left me anxiously awaiting any signs of normalcy.

When Yeshiva University finally gave the green light for students to come back to school, I was among the first to sign up for housing on the Beren Campus in midtown Manhattan. The need to return to some sort of regularity quickly outweighed my parents’ concerns about sending me back to school in New York. After the high holidays, students slowly came trickling back, and Yeshiva University’s medical advisers and staff redoubled their efforts to maintain a healthy environment for the YU community.

Life on campus has drastically changed from last year at this time. All the events, internships and small moments that had previously allowed me to fully embrace the city as my classroom are changed or absent. The Stern I know and love was a place where the cafeteria was the hub of socializing, a place where my friends knocked on my door at any time, a place where I would bump into a peer in the hallway and have a 45-minute conversation. Being in school now, in contrast to previous years, is an explicit manifestation of the drastic changes the world has undergone this past year. Now, the school feels desolate. The cafeteria no longer has that exciting buzz. The hallways are empty. The dorms are for residents only. School has become considerably less lively.

It feels like the pulse of the school has been silenced, but even now, there is still so much to be grateful for. It is extraordinary to see how much effort the YU staff has invested to give students the ability to be on campus. From administering COVID tests twice a week to maintaining Shabbat life on campus, Yeshiva University has demonstrated a real commitment to giving students and teachers the most normal experience possible.

Vice Provost for Student Affairs Dr. Chaim Nissel stated, “Keeping the YU campuses healthy and safe are our top priority.”

Senior Jade Hirt expressed that, “Even though new protocols are being mandated, it is no question that being back in school has made me a happier person.”

That students have the opportunity to study in a library, to live in a dorm room with at least one friend, to take a long walk in Central Park; these are still valuable opportunities to be embraced.

So while I no longer have an “open door policy” in my room; I no longer get to bump into old friends in the hallways, and I no longer get to go to my internships in person—I do have the freedom to walk outside and listen to the vibrant hum of New York City and take advantage of the small opportunities I do have.

As a student at Yeshiva University I understand that as the world continues to change from day to day, I too need to change and allow myself to find beauty in the new normal YU has granted me the opportunity to seize.


Maya Golan was born in Los Angeles and is a senior at Stern College for Women. She is majoring in English with a journalism concentration and plans to pursue a law degree after graduating college. She plans to stay in New York City indefinitely, but is eagerly awaiting any excuse to return to the West Coast.

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