That Within Which Passeth Show  

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As I am writing this blog post, I am sitting in the auditorium of the Schottenstein Cultural Center, hearing Hamlet's desperate voice ringing from the stage. Rehearsals for Stern College Dramatics Society's spring 2011 production of Shakespeare's Hamlet are in progress, and we actresses are scattered across the empty auditorium, while Hamlet paces and ponders onstage.


Stern College has a rather rigorous academic program and a dual curriculum that takes up a lot of time and energy. Tests, assignments, essays, projects -- they all seem to be never-ending. Just as you think you've got a handle on it and you figure out how to balance everything, something new comes along. Another assignment, an unexpected piece of homework that disrupts your fantasy vision of an actual social life. With all of this, it's difficult to find time for other things -- especially something that requires a major time commitment like acting in a play. Rehearsals start after classes and end progressively later as opening night approaches. In a place like Stern College, balancing schoolwork and a play means that you are sacrificing all of your spare time, using every minute between classes or when you are not on stage to do your homework and study for midterms. It's definitely not for the weak of heart. So you can be sure that the actresses who are playing in SCDS's production of Hamlet are in it because they care about it, because they are ready to give it their all so that the show will be a success.

With that said, I would like to invite all of you to come see Hamlet! The show dates are Monday, March 28th and Tuesday, March 29th, at 7:30 PM, in the Schottenstein Cultural Center in Manhattan on 34th street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Everyone is welcome -- men and women. You can reserve tickets in advance and get them at a discount by emailing (students - $10, general - $12), or buy tickets at regular price at the door on the day of the show (students - $12, general - $14).

I am playing Barnardo in the show, and I would love to see all of you in the audience!


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When I was little, Purim contained a sort of magic for me. The costumes, the music, the dancing, the sheer joy. Purim created the kind of special memories that would stay with me and put a smile on my face years later. This year, however, having midterms right before and another test the day after Purim is putting a bit of a damper on it. So... for all those who need to get into the Purim spirit, check out the Maccabeats' new music video, and raise your glass. ;]

This makes me rather proud of being part of Yeshiva University.

So raise your glass if you see God in hidden places,
He's right in front of you,
We will never be never be anything but proud to tell our story
v'nahafoch hu.

Observer - Under Your Parents' Roof  

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The current issue of the Observer (March 2011) has an article about Stern College students who commute, titled Under Your Parents' Roof. I was interviewed and quoted throughout the article, so check it out. :]

Honesty? No, thanks.  

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I was browsing a Jewish classifieds website today, looking for a possible part-time job opportunity. Truthfully, I don't have that much time in my schedule right now, especially with midterms coming up this week and all the other work that has been piled on, but my usual reaction to discovering that I don't have the money to permit myself even a cheap shopping trip is to start looking for sources of income. As I was looking at the different ads, once caught my eye. The title was "Writers needed." Perfect, I thought. I'm a writer, and writing gigs are generally short and sweet and convenient. So I read on. This is what the ad said:

If you love writing, have a bachelor's degree, and are very flexible in schedule, please email me your writing sample of a college paper as well as your phone number and availability. Disclaimer: This job involves writing essays for college students that are either too busy, too tired, unwilling, or otherwise unable to write their own, so if you worship Rabeinu University and feel that this is wrong morally, ethically, or halachically (it is not!) , please don't apply to this ad or write letters sharing your concerns.

When I got to the part about sending in a sample college essay so they can determine whether you are good for the job or not, I became a bit suspicious. By the time I finished reading the ad, I was fuming.

I was angry not just because of the idea of having other people write your papers for you. I am aware that this kind of cheating is, unfortunately, common in colleges because there are plenty of students who would rather give money than do the work and feel they can buy their way through college. I don't particularly care what the excuse is, although the person who wrote this ad listed several -- that students might be busy, tired, unwilling, or unable to write their college papers so they employ the help of a paid writer to write these essays for them. My belief is that if you are in college, you should be doing your own work. If you're incapable of doing it, then why should you still get the same grades as someone who puts in hours of their time into an essay? Grades are supposed to reflect your abilities as a student and your grasp of the material and the basics of the English language, not your ability to pay. Does this sound harsh? Yes, it does. But I am not apologizing for it, because that is how I see it.

What made me especially angry about this ad was the way it addressed Jewish law and values. What gives this person the right to state that helping students cheat is not morally, ethically, or halakhically wrong? Sure, it's a great way to prevent people from feeling guilty for working for them or receiving help from them, but where is the truth in this person's claim that it is perfectly all right to do this? What happened to honesty, which -- last time I checked -- was a value that is supposed to be important to Jews who believe in the Torah and in emulating G-d?
I wrote about the issue of copying homework nearly two years ago, back when I was in high school and had just started this blog. You can read that post here.

Also, I read a while ago a very interesting article titled The Shadow Scholar, about a writer whose main source of income is writing essays for college students. At times I found myself shaking my head in disbelief as I read all the things he does. He takes online courses for the students in order to write essays. He does papers on all different subjects for both undergraduate and graduate students.

I have a lot to say on this subject. I could rant about it for pages. But what I really want is to hear what others think. Am I the only one whose blood boils when I read things like these? Does anyone know someone who has taken advantage of these services? Also, are there any practical solutions to combat this in colleges?