Emerson discontinues Winter Term, releases community equity action plan


Hongyu Liu

Visitor Center of Emerson College.

By Adri Pray, Editor-at-large

Emerson released an update to students, faculty and staff Friday morning concerning the college’s community equity action plan. The plan outlines the college’s commitment to “dismantling systemic oppression, including racism, ableism, as well as other forms of power-based and identity-based harm.”

The Presidential Advisory Group (PAG) for Community and Equity held its final meeting of the 2021-22 school year in April. The group discussed multiple topics, including student representation on a new Budget Planning Priorities and Advisory Committee and campus accessibility efforts like the new Digital Accessibility Policy.

As Emerson students have expressed desire for the college to take a more “intersectional approach” over the summer, PAG leadership said it will “consider the best approach” for the coming academic year.

The college also broadened its Community Equity Action Plan website to include the specific actions and initiatives taken in support of Emerson’s Commitment to Accessibility.

Additionally, the email correspondence outlined several actions the college took to finish the 2021-22 academic year, including an update regarding the ongoing search for the Vice President for Equity and Social Justice. 

Vice President for Enrollment and Interim Supervisor of the Social Justice Center Ruthanne Madsen chairs the search and Interim President William Gilligan acts as the hiring manager for the search. An announcement regarding the status of the search is expected to be shared in the near future.

The email also provided an update on the Beyond Racial Equity report conducted over the course of the school year, which aims to “identify structural and systemic barriers that prevent BIPOC students, students with disabilities, and students from other marginalized groups from experiencing a sense of belonging and full participation.”

According to the email, BRE extended the timeline of the report into June. In the final weeks of the semester, faculty members invited BRE to participate in discussion with students to gain a “deeper understanding” of their experiences at Emerson. 

BRE is in the final phase of the project, and the report and subsequent recommendations are slated to be delivered to Emerson leaders over the summer. Senior leadership will determine the appropriate priorities and share an implementation plan in September.

Updates will be shared with the Emerson community as needed over the coming months and a comprehensive update will be sent upon students’ return in the fall.

Additionally, the Office of Professional Studies announced the termination of the Winter Term in a separate email sent Friday morning. The Winter Term was initially offered during the pandemic to “meet the diverse student needs that emerged during a time of significant change and uncertainty.” As the college has started to “emerge from pandemic operations,” it will be discontinued for the upcoming December 2022 to January 2023 break, but may be reintroduced in a different form in the future.

The January Intersession will be offered as it has in the past and will be included as part of the spring registration cycle.