Emerson College Students’ Union holds second meeting, formulates long-term objectives

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Photo: The Berkeley Beacon Archives

Emerson’s downtown Boston campus.

By Ashlyn Wang

The Emerson College Students’ Union held its second general meeting on Sunday to formulate strategies for the union’s programs, services, and long-term objectives. The Union also discussed issues facing Emerson students, staff, and faculty.

The organization is newly established, having been formed over the summer to mobilize on-campus issues crucial to students and serve as a representative voice for them in negotiations with Emerson’s administrations.

ECSU proposed a core point program consisting of eight points addressing the desires and needs of Emerson students gathered through meetings, polling, and student body demonstrations. These points, according to ECSU’s Instagram, include students’ entitlement to collective bargaining, demand for financial and administrative transparency, and students’ accessibility to healthcare services, among others.

“Those are the things we’ve gathered from being students at Emerson College, and it’s going to be constantly under review,” said Dylan Young, a sophomore visual media arts major. He serves as ECSU’s chairman of digital output, deputy chairman of grassroots output, and media organizer.

“Anytime you would like to make a change to our point program, it’s always up for a vote,” Young said during the meeting. “Any part of our program is up to change.”

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Young went over select ECSU caucuses, including the Student Health, Mutual Aid, and Ministry of Information and explained their functions. The Mutual Aid Caucus is responsible for helping Emerson students get equipment for their independent visual arts projects. ECSU will develop services for caucuses that provide student services at the meeting, Young said. 

Chairman of setting and chairman of treasury Emma Cudahy proposed planning various events to help students learn more about ECSU. Members at the meeting suggested events that the union could host, including open mics, house shows, movie nights, ‘zine skill-sharing workshops, and game nights.

“We’re talking about trying to plan some kind of events that aren’t necessarily directly students’ union content-related, but would be an opportunity for us to tell people what we’re about in a space that appeals to Emerson students and would be fun,” said Cudahy. 

During the meeting, ECSU members reported current issues Emerson students face with Emerson’s COVID Policy—the inability of many students to find accurate guidelines, the frequent guesswork by students as to what they need to do in the absence of clear guidance, and the discrepancies arising among Emerson’s administrations and levels. In response, ECSU plans to draft a statement that would bring COVID issues into focus.

Robin Jacobson, a VMA student and union member, raised several concerns regarding Emerson’s academic accommodations and counseling services. According to Jacobson, students must repeatedly prove their eligibility for accommodations every semester and cannot appeal for a change in accommodations.

“It feels like you’re proving to Emerson why you deserve accommodations,” Jacobson said. “It’s not a fun experience. They basically decide which of the accommodations you ask for, and [you] can’t argue.”

The only way to contact counseling services is by calling the office number, which can add unnecessary anxiety for some students. Additionally, the office offers “same-day and urgent care visits every weekday,” according to the Emerson Wellness Center Counseling Services website. But Jacobson said they haven’t heard of anyone obtaining the same-day care at Emerson. 

“People were making deals to get appointments,” said Jacobson. “They would get appointments and basically sell it to someone else for something in return, and that became a very popular thing.

ECSU concluded the meeting by discussing its internal communication and decision-making processes, position assignments, and finances to ensure transparency and efficiency. Union members intend to draft bills on the discussed issues to a vote next week. They also plan to host a town hall to interact with the Emerson community by exchanging ideas and sharing plans. Members of Emerson’s Staff Union also plan to attend ECSU’s town hall to hear from and speak with students.

ECSU hopes 30% of Emerson’s student body will sign up for its union drive, which enables students to join the union, and will begin establishing the union’s legitimacy as a representative body for students.

“We want full administrative and financial transparency,” Young said. “In all of our point print programs, we want sovereignty over our bodies.”