UMass Amherst Senior Aleksandr Senderovich Wins First Prize in Elie Wiesel Foundation Essay Contest

AMHERST, Mass. - Aleksandr "Sasha" Senderovich, a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has received the first prize in this year''s Prize in Ethics Essay Contest of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. His essay, Tatyana''s Glory; or The Birth Pangs of a Civil Society. The Ethics of Normalcy in Present-day Russia, was selected from 433 entries submitted by students from more than 400 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. The Foundation will be honoring Senderovich at a reception in New York City later this year.

Since 1988, the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity has sponsored the Prize in Ethics Essay Contest. This prestigious competition is designed to challenge college students to examine and analyze urgent ethical issues confronting them in today''s society. Senderovich receives $5,000 for his winning essay.

"I am very grateful to the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity for recognizing my essay and, consequently, the questions I raised in it. I hope that somehow this recognition will spotlight the difficult situation in Russia which goes largely unnoticed in the West." Senderovich says. "I am also very honored by the upcoming opportunity to meet Elie Wiesel. As always, I am thankful to all my professors for teaching me how to think critically and treat writing seriously, and especially to James E. Young for working with me on this essay and for nominating it for the competition.

"In my essay, I reflected on the hectic transition to "normalcy" taking place in the former Soviet Union after nearly eight decades of Communist rule," Senderovich says. "I became interested in writing this essay when I read in the papers in May 2002 about a case of a young woman, Tatyana Sapunova, who stopped her car on a side of a busy Moscow highway in order to remove a violent anti-Semitic poster, and the poster exploded (the woman sustained multiple injuries). I understood the situation as representative of numerous issues of post-Soviet Russia. Indifference of other motorists on a busy road during an entire day that the sign stood there, a failure to remove the sign by police despite the fact that a police station was located a mere hundred meters away, and the convoluted Soviet-style language used by officials to disguise the situation. Alongside these vestiges of the Communist system, I reflected on Tatyana''s action as the first step of its kind on the road of Russia''s failing attempts to build a civil society."

In February, Senderovich, was named to the First Team of the All-USA College Academic Team by the national daily newspaper USA Today. He was one of 20 undergraduate students from across the country chosen for the First Team for outstanding intellectual achievement and leadership. He is enrolled in Commonwealth College, the University''s honors college,