EDITORIAL: Emerson’s plastic straw conundrum

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By Editorial Board

At issue: Emerson revamps its image.

Our take: Change doesn’t always mean progress.

On July 9, 2018, Starbucks announced the company will slowly faze out single-use, plastic straws in favor of lids or alternative-material straws to reduce pollution. Starbucks enacted this even though the Ocean Conservancy’s Coastal Cleanup Report stated plastic straws amount to 3 percent of trash found on beaches worldwide. So, did this matter as much as Starbucks made it seem? Or was the company, in the same vein as Emerson, evading universal concerns with something minimal, but attractive, to occupy headlines?

Similar to Starbucks’ plastic straw stunt, President M. Lee Pelton renewed his presence on social media, specifically through Twitter and Instagram. While Pelton’s appearance on these platforms allows students to communicate with him on a more personal level, it’s still a facade for larger, more complex issues the college faces. Pelton’s social media presence merely serves as a mask that students can relish due to its popularity and accessibility.

Social media is one step, and a small one at that. What does an online image matter when tuition increases with every year, but financial aid remains unchanged? Why do students feel they must enlist in the military to pay off their debt? What about Emerson’s attempts at expansion and globalization even though we lack student diversity? How far can a single meal swipe donation go when students can barely afford food for themselves?

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In the past, we covered Emerson initiatives like the Student Assistance Fund, food pantry, and meal swipe donation program. These programs all rely on the generosity of the Emerson community, and while they do make a difference, the big picture is still important. Emerson’s expensive tuition and little financial aid makes it even harder for those from diverse backgrounds to attend. If the school is working towards making itself accessible to more students, they should actively communicate this to the student body.

As a college, Emerson fails to appropriately recognize these issues and their corresponding solutions. But at least we can now tweet our opinions in 280 characters or less to @LeePelton.