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

ECSU town hall meeting discusses repression of student activities

ECSU+town+hall+meeting+discusses+repression+of+student+activities

The Emerson College Students’ Union (ECSU) met for a public Town Hall meeting in the 172 Tremont building on Thursday, Feb. 15, to discuss initiatives and recent challenges they’ve faced. Attendees were given a space to voice their concerns. 

With over 25 members of the Emerson community in attendance, ECSU leader and visual media arts (VMA) junior Dylan Young kicked off the meeting by recognizing an enthusiastic turnout. 

“It really feels like we’re getting support when we’re trying to support the student body,” Young said. 

Their presentation began with an introduction of the union and an explanation of exactly how its initiatives and projects work. 

In this explanation, Young mentioned, “We as students … don’t only want to define our working conditions, but we want to define our living and learning conditions here at Emerson.”

After the union’s establishment in 2022, ECSU members have designed their operations to try and best represent the student body’s voice, which has been executed through direct action and collective bargaining. 

ECSU leader and VMA junior David Sazdic followed the union’s introduction with a report on ECSU’s wins from last year, such as their help in the staff union’s COLA negotiation

“COLA was a huge win and helped us make ties with the staff union and create that connection,” Sazdic said. 

The union has also successfully launched projects, such as peer-to-peer counseling services for students, EDC accessibility reform, and private forms of equipment rental that can be accessed through the ECSU website. 

Since ECSU’s commencement, they’ve seen responses to their varying campaigns throughout the years differ. 

“In response [to] some of the escalations we took in that campaign, the school has very much changed their position in how they’re going to deal with on-campus organizers,” Young said. 

This segued into the town hall’s discussion on new anti-activist policies students will have to accommodate. Non-Emerson affiliated organizations have been told by administration that they are not allowed to use Emerson resources to advocate for their ideas. This has impacted the union as they are known to use efforts like tablings in the 2B alleyway, sending out blast emails to students, and using Emerson building meeting rooms to engage with students. 

“The thing that we do to get information out about our organization and how we connect with the community is now not allowed and punishable,” Sazdic said. 

With members already under investigation for their use of Emerson IPs in their email blasts, Young describes this hurdle as “a process of paranoia.” It is unclear what the scale of the investigation will be or what it will entail. 

Spokesperson Michelle Gaseau said in an email statement to the Beacon that individual students can reserve campus space as long as they continue to adhere to college policies. Non-official student organizations are not entitled to these particular benefits unless they become registered organizations, she added. 

Emerson encourages and upholds freedom of expression within the bounds of college policies,”  said Gaseau. “The college policies for the administration of spaces and resources apply to individual students and registered student organizations. Registered student organizations can reserve campus spaces and advertise on behalf of their organizations in conjunction with SEAL and other relevant college policies.”

However, these policies have not discouraged union members and town hall attendees. Ideas such as innovative forms of rallying, different forms of communication, and new plans for workshopping and training were discussed. 

With upcoming rallies planned and a Marshall Training organized, ECSU is continuing to create new ways to effectively represent the student body at Emerson College.

“I’m very excited about this discussion of solidarity,” Young said. “I think the solidarity between the organizations on campus and the organizational strength that we’ve been able to build up over the last couple of years … makes this a very perfect moment for us.”

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About the Contributor
Valentina Baez, Staff Writer
Valentina Baez (she/her/hers) is a Venezuelan-American student journalist from Miami, FL. Her Journalism Major coupled with her minor in Political Science has provided her with an understanding of the intersectional news coverage she’s interested in. She is currently the beat reporter for the Emerson College Student’s Union and occasionally likes to write other stories for the news section. She is a Junior and will be graduating early in August of 2024.

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