Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

College briefly halts admissions proceedings in light of arrests, students and student workers reflect on closures

As Emerson College’s admissions department shut down for two days in light of the arrests on April 25, admissions workers and incoming students comment on their personal conflicts and what it means to be Emersonians.
Notice outside Emerson College’s Visitors Center explaining closures (Bryan Hecht/Beacon Staff)

Editor’s Note: This article has been republished to include corrections and to acknowledge that admission activities were put on hold for two days and are now active.

Emerson College briefly halted admissions activities in light of the arrests of 118 students on April 25. The undergraduate admissions call center shut down for the week following, opting for student workers to not take calls and emails. Tours were canceled on April 25 and April 26 following the arrests.

Both offices were originally planning to stay open throughout the rest of the school year, excluding some parts of move-out and finals week and into the summer. Both offices are now fully running again.

For those working in admissions, the tour cancellation was a relief. Sophie, a student admissions representative for the college who did not wish to disclose her last name, said that their moral standing and need to work no longer had to clash. 

“I personally am not in the financial circumstance where I can quit my job, even though I disagree with the actions of the administration,” said Sophie. “Having to represent the school every single day for money is emotionally taxing.”

Daphne Bryant, a college tour guide, said that balancing personal feelings and her financial needs was difficult for herself and others in the office to do their job. 

“I think a lot of people [were] just at odds with themselves and with their identity,” Bryant said. “I want[ed] to do the right thing, and I also need[ed] to get paid.”

This sentiment was agreed upon by an Emerson tour guide who wished to remain anonymous. The guide explained that it was hard to give tours as they no longer recognized the school they originally joined. 

“This Emerson that we’re seeing right now, it’s not the one that I pay for, it’s not the one that I applied for, and it’s not the one I’m selling,” they said. 

The office had similar struggles prior to its recent closure. In response to the 12 Emerson students who were arrested on March 22 during a pro-Palestine rally outside President Jay Bernhardt’s inauguration, both the tour office and call center made work optional, opting to support its student workers who may feel uncomfortable representing the school. In the visitor center, admission counselors gave tours for the week following the arrests while the call center shut down for a day. Once both offices reopened, many student workers in admissions were criticized for continuing to work.

According to Bryant, some tour guides were yelled at while giving tours by other students. 

For us to also be at odds with each other on a student level was just an awful feeling,” she said.

Another tour guide, who also wished to remain anonymous, echoed similar sentiments. 

“I think it’s really upsetting to see fellow peers targeting students for working for the school in this capacity,” they said. “The student body did not vote for this president, none of these decisions were made taking our opinions, our desires or our needs into account and that’s not the student workers’ fault.”

While she did not experience criticism in person herself, Bryant explained that at events such as Admitted Students Day, protesters were yelling at tour groups about what had happened to the arrested students weeks prior. Information such as how many students were arrested, by who, and why were shouted at touring students so as to let them know what happened. While Bryant knew it was not directed toward her, she said it was hard not to feel distanced from her peers who were protesting.

In places like the call center, the responses to the arrests and subsequent protests were challenging for student workers to deal with. Phone calls in particular were made complaining about the encampment in the 2B alley.

“It’s disheartening because I felt like the majority of the emails that we were getting about it was anti-protest, anti-the encampment, anti-Palestine, and it’s difficult to see that level of hatred towards your classmates and your peers,” said a student admissions representative who asked to remain anonymous. 

To continue working, student workers like Bryant said they focused on why they loved Emerson, highlighting the community and the academics.

“I wanted other people to be able to experience what I experienced here and all the beautiful things at Emerson,” said Bryant. “The creative environment, the city, the smaller, more intimate classes, and just the vibes in general.”

Another tour guide also gave a similar comment to the Beacon. 

“The school that I sell is one of creative individuals coming together, what the encampment stood for is what I was selling,” they said. ”When I tell people how much I love Emerson, it’s usually because I see something in them that I think that they would be a good fit here … and that’s why I love my job.”

For prospective students, the events on April 25 have skewed their perspective. 

Sofi Hayter, a high school senior who was accepted to Emerson but decided not to attend for financial reasons, said that making college decisions has been difficult given the number of students arrested around the country. Hayter was especially concerned with the negative reactions she has seen to student protests around the country.

“It doesn’t feel like anybody has really cared about the class of 2028, and it’s kind of upsetting to see. It’s been difficult for us to plan our futures,” said Hayter. “It’s honestly slightly worrisome.”

As the school with one of the most violent arrests, some students like Hayter are glad they did not commit to Emerson.

“It made me feel like, ‘wow, I’m kind of glad that I didn’t [attend Emerson],’” said Hayter.

However, for other students, the show of solidarity among students and staff following the arrests has proven to them that they connect with the community at Emerson. 

“[Seeing the reaction to the arrests] has strengthened my excitement to come here because it goes to show how [much] the community itself, like the students and some of the faculty, are committed to the values of Emerson … I feel safe in a community like that,” said Matthias Gat, a high school senior committed to Emerson.

Calls regarding Emerson’s values were made during both the SGA meeting, which held a vote of no confidence in Bernhardt, and the recent town hall meeting. Some have emphasized that the ideals associated with Emerson as an institution are false, while others agree with this motion but believe that the community itself is reflective of those ideals.

Tour guides like Bryant see a similar value in the school, which still encourages them to motivate students to come to Emerson if they are sure it’s the place for them.

“I would tell prospective students not to lose sight of your dream,” Bryant said. “The students who are here now are advocating for change so that the Emerson you attend, the Emerson people attend 10 years from now and 20 years from now, is better.” 

Bryan Eduoard, a senior visual media arts major, said he is disappointed by the response, adding that upcoming students should see the college as it is, which includes the protests and events that have transpired this semester.

“Have [tours], let them see the chalk. It’s beautiful,” said Eduoard, who noted that the ideals demonstrated by protests and student expression are what drove him to Emerson in the first place. “That’s also one of the biggest reasons why I came to the school is what it stood for.”

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Iselin Bratz
Iselin Bratz, Kasteel Well Bureau Co-Chief

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