Students share their expectations for the new year

by Sara Barber / Beacon Correspondent and Katherine Burns / Beacon Staff • September 7, 2017

What do you expect from Emerson this school year: as a social force, as a creative hub, as an academic institution?
 
I work at Emerson’s Gauge Magazine, a semesterly publication that varies its theme with each issue. For Spring 2017, we voted on the theme of chaos; it felt appropriate for the times we are living in, under a presidential administration that believes transgender, sick, and poor individuals (to name a few) are a burden to society. While I don’t think our world will become less chaotic as we enter the fall semester, I do hope we as Emerson students can make better sense of our surroundings and work to end blatant and latent injustices.

We are capable of creating a lasting impact on this world. I find our academic institution diligent in creating a space where productive change can happen. We bring in guest speakers such as Angela Davis and Claudia Rankine who have been at the forefront of social innovation, and from whom we have the opportunity to learn and grow. We have many organizations on campus that make fighting for social just a primary goal. I use my major in writing, literature, and publishing  to foster social activism by writing about causes that matter to me, and attend protests and rallies that are brought to my attention via peers and faculty. We have ample opportunity to use our resources to ensure we are a driving force in making the world a better place, and this semester I expect Emerson community members to take full advantage of all there is around us.

We are active participants in history, and we must recognize the power we have to positively contribute to this change. Our school is at the forefront of social innovation, as seen when several Emerson offices sponsored a trip to D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington in January.

But we still have a long way to go. I can’t help but notice the disparity between my hometown in Danbury, CT and my home now. Shortly after our Inauguration Day, a drunk man wandered through my high school parking lot, flailing a Trump sign and screaming, “You’ll be out of the country, you fucking illegals!” While the hope afforded by Emerson is exhilarating, it can blind us to the political realities outside our semi-harmonious school.

We live in one of the most historic cities in America, attend a well-respected school, and we need to feel a personal responsibility to be engaged members of our academic community and beyond. College is temporary, but the repercussions of our actions are not.

-Sara Barber
 
As I sat in the back seat of my father’s mini-van while we trudged through Boylston Street traffic on Sept. 1, I stared intently out the window, taking in everything I saw. The Emerson I saw in front of me was not the one I left behind in the spring—new dining center, new dorm building, new faces, and somehow even more scaffolding. The changes went beyond aesthetic, and represented, to me, a fresh start.

Although this is a fresh start for everyone, marginalized students will return to campus to find that many of the challenges they faced in previous years still exist.

I’m going into my final semester as a completely different person than I was when I first arrived. My personal transformation is a great indication of Emerson as a social force and creative hub. I came into college completely closeted, scared to tell even my roommates I was dating a girl, because my past had taught me they would not be accepting. Now I present my queerness to the world through my appearance and in my writing. I found that through writing, I was able to reach other people who shared the same experiences, and it made us feel less alone.

Emerson students spend a lot of time looking at the world around them, trying to capture and analyze it through their films, writing, or performances. However, we also spend our time in introspection, discovering ourselves and expressing that version of ourselves to the world.

The variety of creative outlets our school provides allows students to produce more personal work that allows them to better connect with others who have shared experiences. Being able to share this work with other students in various forms helps humanize others and forge meaningful connections.

With its fresh face, I hope Emerson continues to work toward being as open and welcoming as it claims to be. This school was the safe haven I needed to be the most authentic version of myself, but there is still work to be done to ensure other marginalized students can feel just as safe and whole as their peers. Emerson, as an institution, has the potential to act as a guide for how we treat all members of our community. With the creative efforts of the student body and faculty, I know that it can.

-Katie Burns