Jackie Retig and Dara J. Weiss are leaders of TorchPac, NYU's pro-Israel student group. They recently coordinated a Campus Conversation dinner on May 5, 2013. Below, they reflect on the event and their role in organizing it. As the Director of Campus Relations and the Director of Student Outreach for NYU's pro-Israel political club on campus, TorchPAC, we decided to end this school year with a dinner that would bring together student leaders from across the university. We led the campus relations committee and student outreach committee this past year in engaging students about Israel, both in the Jewish community and in the larger campus community. In doing so, our goal was to build lasting relationships with student leaders representing unique constituencies.
The David Project, and our amazing Campus Coordinator, Jordana Ornstein, helped our committees start and continue conversations on campus. Together, we decided that TorchPAC should host the first ever NYU Campus Conversation dinner to further these relationships with students. The dinner brought together 25 student leaders, from student council presidents to finance and real estate club presidents to the presidents of minority group clubs on campus. During the first part of the evening, students enjoyed appetizers while networking with TorchPAC board members and other campus leaders in attendance. The students then heard from NYU Chaplain and Executive Director of the Bronfman Center, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, talk about the opportunities that arise when student leaders work together to build something. Following his speech, we invited students to introduce their organization and raise their concerns and goals as leaders on NYU’s campus. This conversation extended throughout dinner and to dessert, during which time students exchanged contact information, took down the information of other clubs and connected in small groups.
At the close of the dinner, we looked around the room and realized something amazing had happened. This was a room of our friends. In the past year, we had taken these students to coffee, followed up by email and invited them to various TorchPAC events. They asked us questions about Pillar of Defense, Iran and Israeli politics. We attended their club meetings and learned about the causes that they had a passion for. And at the end of the year, they introduced us to the next president of their club and we began building relationships with the future leaders on campus. The Campus Conversation dinner started a conversation that will extend far beyond this semester, and we could not have done it without the help of The David Project.