Remember when we just mentioned the 80-20 rule? I’ll remind you – it was when we were talking about the distribution of resources as correlated to the number of Orthodox students, and we noted that it’s easier and a better fit than correlating to NCSY alumni or Jewish students in general, because most Orthodox students only go to a few schools. That principal is known as the 80-20 rule – e.g. 80% of your sales come from 20% of your products, and 80% of your efforts are invested in 20% of your problems. The 80-20 rule (also known as the Pareto principle) usually means a power law distribution, and it is commonly found in many natural phenomenon. You can see the power law distribution of Orthodox students in college very clearly in this graph:
This brings me to a related point, which was laid out very well in this awesome TED talk. (I’ll wait while you watch this 20-minute marvelous video…) Okay, so now back to us – if we’re talking about building institutions, than the current model works great – let’s find the top 20 schools and then we can service 80% of our constituents by only investing in those 20. Makes sense, right? But – what if we wanted to service everyone? To allow everyone to contribute, to reach everyone? Then we need a new solution and a new platform. Like in the example of photographers – it used to be that you hire the 20 best photographers to take 80% of the best pictures – but now there’s Flickr and camera phones and photo-bloggers, and now we can have everything documented, everyone learning to see the world through the lens of photography, everyone part of an army of photographers, and all for almost no money. Bad for kodak/photographers, but good for photography, and great for the world.
So here too with college campuses – sure, invest building and staff on the top 20 campuses because that makes the most sense. Or the top 25 campuses. But if we wanted to put JLIC couples on every campus with orthodox Jews, a) that wouldn’t be an effective allocation of resources (imagine campuses with 1 orthodox student and a JLIC couple) and b) budget would need to grow 100-fold, which is never going to happen. Maybe we shouldn’t say never, look at Chabad… – but even Chabad doesn’t service every campus. And we’re not even talking about servicing every person on a campus, for which institutions (whether Chabad, Hillel, JLIC, or anyone else) don’t even come close to doing sufficiently. But what if the options aren’t all or nothing? JLIC or nothing? What if we wanted to serve and service all religious Jews in college – what could we do? And don’t say we can’t – there are enough virtual and collaborative tools out there that were built for something like this, we should at least try.
That’s where the idea for this site came from – what if we could figure out all the things religious students and communities need and start giving it to them? Okay, if they want a full time Orthodox rabbinic couple maybe not, but that’s only a small piece – and even that could be deconstructed and compensated for. And we can also come up with new platforms, and new initiatives – including things that are only possible when talking about a grassroots, comprehensive effort. For example, working with high schools college guidance counselors: they know about JLIC and it’s pretty simple, either the schools their students are looking at have it or they don’t. But what about the 30% going to schools which don’t? What about the students looking at colleges which don’t, but want to find out what resources exist or if it’s a viable option or with whom to connect? That’s where Kahal comes in.