Letter: Open Letter to the Administration of Emerson College


By Ryan Rock

Ryan Rock is a senior theatre major

To the Emerson College administration,

I want to understand more exactly the basis in which you are describing how online classes are going to be on the same educational level as my in-person classes; especially considering the lower cost of online classes at Emerson College during the summer. Additionally, I want to relay to you the reasons I, and many others, feel that your decision not to reimburse any tuition credit is unfair and inconsiderate to student needs.

Classes are not going to be the same quality. I can say with certainty that they will be comparatively inferior to the in-person lessons that I had paid for. I already had an online experience this semester where the professor had to teach the class virtually due to this crisis, and I can assure you that there were technological issues, people talking over each other, and a distance that is not unnoticeable – and that was with the entire class in the classroom and only the professor online! Moving everyone to zoom, know that there will simply be a huge difference in discussion-based classes, where people will be getting delayed responses and talking over each other will happen and it will not be as cohesive. Some of the professors I have are not trained properly in online education, have expressed concerns in doing so, and will not have the tools to operate as smoothly as before. Some classes, like my in-studio directing class, are heavily affected by this alteration to the semester. Regardless of changes, I was taking that class to learn hands-on how to direct in a live theatre environment. Things like this are simply not possible to replicate at home – any replacements to it are appreciated and worth my time, but again, not what I paid for.

Also consider the lives that students are going back into. I can not speak entirely for other students, but I know fully that focusing at home is a huge issue for me. My room is right next to my mother’s office. My mom is now working from home most of the time due to the outbreak. I will be having classes on zoom at the same time as her business calls and both of us will be affected by the distraction. I have dogs at home who need caring for. I don’t have a desk at home. Dinner is at a set time that will conflict with one of my classes so I have to skip dinner – no Max here to eat at on break! In general, I experience depressive thoughts and major anxiety when I am at home for too long, as well as when I am without human contact for long periods of time, and that’s just me. I do love my home, but it is certainly not the optimal learning environment for these classes. There are students who I am positive have worse home lives than I. Students that need a classroom and safe environment to focus.

I am 5 classes away from graduating. Finally at the point that I’m taking the classes that truly prepare me for the work I plan to be doing for the rest of my life. This semester I signed up to do all the classes I have been yearning to take since I signed up to attend this school. Not taking them in person is heartbreaking. This is uncontrollable I understand, but the fact that you, who are not taking the classes and are earning money from us, are not reducing prices is disrespectful to the experiences of the students. Telling us that we “will have different assignments and will participate differently” does not make me feel any better about it. Yes, we will adapt. Still, it is not what I took loans that I will be paying into the next decade for. So again, I urge you to reconsider. Furthermore, I expect you to explain in much greater detail the processes in which you reached the conclusion to not partially reimburse any tuition credit.


Ryan Rock

Senior, Theatre BFA