That’s why Cohen has committed to serving their individual needs. As the leader of the “center for Jewish life” at the college, he said diversity is part of the college community’s story.
“The idea of Hillel is that during the college years, there are so many important things that happen to a student’s life: emotional development, academic and intellectual development, social development, all kinds of things,” Cohen said. “It’s really important for Jewish students that Jewish identity be part of that process.”
In December, Queens College Hillel was given a special accolade: the Phillip H. and Susan Rudd Cohen Outstanding Campus Award, which recognizes the college campus that best embodies the international organization’s mission.
They won for their particular focus on engaging a diverse Jewish and non-Jewish population.
“That we won this award is real recognition that we are not only doing a good job of serving every student, but given the incredible diversity, that means we’re able to provide and give support to an incredibly and unparalleled diversity of backgrounds and cultures,” Cohen said. “That’s a really special thing.”
But there is still more to do. Cohen said his team is severely understaffed given the number of students they serve. He said out of seven total staff members, four of them work with students.
“That’s 1,000 students per staff member,” he said. “That’s totally absurd. It’s all about trying to expand the resources that we have on staff and expand the service that we can provide to students.”