SGA urges college to implement cultural competency classes

by Katherine Burns / Beacon Staff • May 3, 2015

In its final meeting of the year, the Student Government Association passed a resolution urging the college’s administration to implement cultural competency classes for students, faculty, and staff.

The resolution came days after—and in response to—hundreds of students demanding those same changes in a rally on Tuesday that culminated at the Bill Bordy Theater. In its resolution, SGA said it “fully supports” the initiatives introduced at the demonstration.

At its meeting on April 30, SGA also finalized an initiative that calls for several improvements in the college’s academic policies.

The cultural competency resolution is intended to hold the faculty accountable for its pledge to work toward addressing the protesters’ concerns. At the demonstration on Tuesday, the faculty assembly chair said professors would address this topic at their next meeting in August.

The resolution also outlined plans to require yearly cultural competency training for college-recognized student organizations, which would be developed by SGA, multicultural leadership, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and GLBTQ Student Life.

“Emerson College claims to promote innovation in communication and the arts,” the resolution states. “SGA believes that by working hand-in-hand with multicultural organizations and leadership on campus, the administration can live up to that claim in a way Emerson and much of the nation has never seen before.”

SGA also finalized its academic initiative, much of which reiterated the goals of the previous year’s academic initiative. Students in several majors felt there was not enough flexibility in upper-level courses, and said were not enough upper-level courses offered, particularly in the Writing, Literature, and Publishing; Visual and Media Arts; and Political Communication departments, according to the initiative.

The initiative also made suggestions about how to simplify the registration process, like closing classes required for a certain major to students outside the major until those required to take them have registered. They also recommended eliminating the PIN system—which requires students in some majors to get a code from their advisers to register—or further clarifying who needs a PIN, and under what circumstances.

The initiative also suggests improving the First-Year Writing program by potentially combining its two semesterlong courses, Introduction to College Writing and Introduction to Research Writing. It also suggests tailoring the research writing course to individual majors to help students learn the types of writing they may need to know for their prospective professional fields.