Yuval Rosenthal has a lot on his plate in the upcoming school year. Running for ASCSU vice president, president of the CSU Division I hockey team, and a member for Israel’s hockey team.
Rosenthal was born and raised in Kfar Saba, Israel, right outside of Tel Aviv. To him, being Jewish is an identity. “Being Jewish for me means that I need to always strive to be the best person I can in order to set an example in a way that justifies the fact that we are still here after the Holocaust,” said Rosenthal. “I was sent to do well to prove that the Jewish people really to have a place at the table.”
He considers himself a Zionist and said that Israel and his Jewish heritage is very important to him. So important, that he has a star of David tattooed on his chest. The star is outlined in words from the Parsha he read from the Torah during his Bar Mitzvah. It reads, “I gave you today the blessing and the curse, the sky and the Earth, life and death I gave upon you and you chose life for you and your seed.” Rosenthal believes that the choices we make are important to what kind of people we are. “This star symbolizes a piece of of home that I carry on me since I don’t live in Israel anymore,” he said.
In addition to Judaism, hockey has been a major part of Rosenthal’s life ever since he was a little kid. When he was 5 years old, he saw a hockey commercial on television and knew that’s what he wanted to do. His father is Ukrainian and had grown up playing hockey in the streets or on the pond. “He obviously ate it up and loved [that I wanted to play hockey],” said Rosenthal. He started playing inline hockey for a while before switching to ice hockey when he was about 13. “At the time I was playing in the professional league in Israel, so all of my teammates were 18 and above,” said Rosenthal. He explained that every day after school he would get picked up by a teammate to go practice at an ice rink in Metula, which was about three hours away, and he wouldn’t get home until two or three in the morning. Then he would do the same thing the next day.
When he was about 15 or 16, he began playing for Team Israel’s U18 hockey team and once he turned 18, he began playing for the men’s division. He has received many medals and awards while playing with Team Israel. He has received two gold medals from the U18s, a bronze medal from the men’s division, and MVP title from the U18 and men’s team. He also received a bronze medal from the Maccabi games he played in four years ago. He will soon be leaving for New Zealand to play in the World Championships with the men’s team and this summer will be playing in the Maccabi Games in Israel.
Although he began playing for Team Israel when he was 15, Rosenthal had moved to Canada when he was 14 years old. He made the decision that he wanted to expand his hockey career and pursue it. “It was always a huge passion of mine and a really big dream, so we looked into different places in Canada for me to play,” Rosenthal said. He packed up and moved to Alberta, Canada to play hockey at a prep school, where he would play for four years. Once he finished high school, he moved to Toronto and played junior hockey for a couple years.
After playing in Toronto, he began looking at schools out east to play college hockey for. He also started talking to his friend, Hunter Perry, who plays for CSU and played with Rosenthal at prep school in Canada. He asked his Perry if he was able to come to Colorado to visit him. “As soon as I got to Fort Collins, I really just fell in love with it,” said Rosenthal. Perry connected him to the coach, Eric Sunness, who was also Jewish, and the rest is history.
At CSU, hockey is a club sport in the American Collegiate Hockey Association division. Because it is under club sports, the team is partially student ran. The players on the team are responsible for some of the behind the scenes plans. They are in charge of their accounting, travel, fundraising, and other things that an athletic department would usually take care of. This year, Rosenthal is the travel agent but he will become the president of the team for the next two years.
Rosenthal qualifies for elite athlete status in Israel, which is what allows him to play hockey and not have to serve in the Israeli Defense Force since he is an Israeli citizen. Rosenthal was the first hockey player in the history of Israel to receive this status. “It really allowed me to come to CSU because without it, I would have had to go home and serve for three years,” said Rosenthal. While he does have elite athlete status, he did serve for four months last summer. He went through basic training and was a team leader of nine for securing the sector of the Gaza Strip border. Rosenthal stated that because the government and hockey community in Israel have been so good to him, one day he hopes to give back and possibly build more ice rinks and increase awareness around hockey in Israel. “I definitely think it has room to be one of the biggest sports in Israel,” stated Rosenthal.
Aside from playing on the hockey team, Rosenthal is very active at CSU. “I’ve really enjoyed how much more active I’ve become at CSU,” said Rosenthal, who is an executive member of the College of Liberal Arts Council. He helps increase participation and initiative to get students involved in the community. Recently, he helped canvas for Duane Hansen’s City Council campaign and also helped create a partnership with an orphanage in Mexico to help them out.
Although he is just a sophomore, the 21-year-old has many roles in ASCSU. He joined ASCSU this semester and mentioned that he really didn’t know about ASCSU before. “I had to make my own research to find out about it,” said Rosenthal. He became an associate senator in the legislative branch where he helps deliberate and vote on legislation that affects students on campus and the image of CSU. In addition to being an associate senator, he also sits on the internal affairs committee, where they deliberate, debate, and make amendments to legislation that is proposed in senate. After making those amendments they get brought back to senate for a vote.
This year, Rosenthal also decided to join the ticket for the 2017 ASCSU elections. He is running for vice president with a Hailey Morton. “My main reason that made me want to run is to give back to the community here at CSU,” said Rosenthal. “I want to set a precedent that is beneficial for years to come.”
Rosenthal has known Morton for a while now, but they ran into each other one day at the State Capitol in Denver. Rosenthal explained that Morton is very politically involved and is currently interning for Colorado Senator Steve Fenberg. “I asked her if she’s ever considered going into ASCSU and being part of our team,” said Rosenthal. As the two began having more and more conversations about ASCSU, they found that they agreed on a lot of issues. Morton told Rosenthal that she was considering running for ASCSU president and wanted Rosenthal to run with her.
On their platform is to reverse the U+2 housing laws in Fort Collins. Rosenthal explains that Morton is very involved in local, state and national politics, and she has connections in city council. “As much as people have been very critical about it, there has been very little progress with trying to reverse it,” said Rosenthal. He mentioned that it can be a very touchy subject, but believes they can use their connections to help them. “Hailey’s connections in city council and such will really allow us to magnify CSU students’ voices in that battle,” Rosenthal explained.
They also believe in making CSU more sustainable. Morton and Rosenthal have plans to reduce the amount of paper used on campus, starting with the student evaluations that are handed out to students at the end of the semester in each of their classes. Rosenthal explains that if each student is filling out one for each of their classes, and they are taking between four and six classes, a lot of paper is going to waste. They plan to digitize these evaluations and pair it with a system where students can access those evaluations when registering for their classes. “While eliminating all of that wasteful paper, we can increase transparency and at the same time incentivize our professors to do well because those student evals will be publicly accessible,” said Rosenthal.
A role for the vice president of ASCSU is to be the chairperson of the Student Fees and Review Board. This gives the vice president the power to influence the way student fees are being allocated. Rosenthal explained that the student fee budget is 56 million dollars, but if you go to CSU’s website and try to look at the student fees, all of the links are broken. “I want students to not only be able to access but have access to those documents that really can explain to them where their money goes,” stated Rosenthal. He and his running mate propose that there will be an email system that will send an email to the grand email list of students once a budget is proposed and passed by senate.
Rosenthal also explained that there is a very tiny amount of student fees that goes into areas such as interpersonal violence, response and safety, adult learners and veteran services. Meanwhile, LSC construction gets a lot of money from student fees. If elected, Rosenthal stated that he wants take away from the wasteful allocation of student fees and put them towards more important areas. “We can really make a difference to sometimes marginalized groups on campus,” said Rosenthal.
As a Jew, Rosenthal wants to also help Jewish students on campus. He stated that Jewish people have always been disadvantaged throughout history and he wants to make sure that Jewish groups, as well as other groups in Student Diversity Programs and Services offices, are represented at CSU and have a voice in what goes on at their school. He also says he wants to serve as an ambassador to the Jewish organizations on campus. “Traditionally, [these groups] have really kept to themselves and I believe they really deserve to have a seat at the table,” said Rosenthal. He mentioned the Jewish fraternity and sorority, Alpha Epsilon Pi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi, don’t fall under the diversity and inclusion department and executive branch of ASCSU because they are part of Greek life, which isn’t included in that section. Morton and Rosenthal want to create a council that will represent those organizations that aren’t currently represented. This way, they will be closer to ASCSU and have more of a voice.
Morton and Rosenthal also propose that they will cut their own pay of what they would receive as president and vice president and be paid at the same level as other directors in ASCSU. This way, the money that would be going to them, would be going towards creating multicultural events for all diversity organizations. “That is a really direct approach for us to give back to those organizations,” said Rosenthal, who explained that he would also like to increase funding for the student organizations. While he said that it isn’t his decision to say where student fees go, he wants to look at where the rest of the fees are going and see what is officially being spent. Then, they can take a closer look at what they can and can’t spend.
With the rise of anti-Semitism around the world, many Jewish students fear that it may come to CSU’s campus. Rosenthal was getting fired up when he began talking about how horrible he believes anti-Semitism is. “I couldn’t stress enough how it personally hits me. As somebody that has spent time defending our homeland of Israel, for me it would be intolerable if something like that were to happen on our campus,” said Rosenthal, who said that if it were to come to CSU, he promises it would be dealt with the most serious terms possibly. “I really want to promote a culture of inclusiveness and want to increase that through multicultural events,” he said.
He mentioned the vandalism at the Islamic Center in Fort Collins that happened on March 26th. “Something like that, in my opinion, is absolutely disrespectful,” Rosenthal said. “I can promise you that if something of the sort was to happen to Jewish students, as well as any other religious or ethnic group here on campus, it would be dealt with in the most serious terms possible.”
If elected as ASCSU vice president, it probably won’t be Rosenthal’s last gig in politics. He is currently majoring in economics and political science with a concentration in American government and law. Once he graduates from CSU, he hopes to go to law school with his top pick being Columbia University. “I am really passionate about the legal system and that is why I obviously want to go into law,” said Rosenthal. He feels it is important for him to be able to make a change in the world. “Our legal system is ever developing and I want to take part in that and help make history for the best,” Rosenthal stated.
While he knows he wants to go to law school, he has also had professional offers playing hockey in Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden. Before he graduates he has to make the tough decision between hockey or law school. “I grew up wanting to do nothing else but play hockey, but as much as my love for that is great, I understand it’s limitations,” explained Rosenthal. “I want to be able to have not a fall back option, but I really want to develop myself outside of hockey as well to be able to really succeed in the world.”
Until then, Rosenthal has his hands full with the ASCSU elections, playing hockey for CSU and Team Israel, and keeping up with his classwork.
But his advice to any Jew? “If you have not had the chance to visit Israel, I would highly, highly, highly recommend it,” said Rosenthal. “The people are awesome, the culture is beautiful, the history is really humbling. I think that’s something that every Jewish person in the United States should really do is actually visit Israel and get to see where their heritage comes from.”