Letter to the Editor: A Blue Valentine’s Day at Emerson

It is easy to love Emerson. Talented students, brilliant faculty, committed staff: great people. We see individuals learn and grow on our campus, but we also see them stifled. We see them burn out and leave because Emerson doesn’t love them back. 

In less than 6 months, we saw more than 40 co-workers leave Emerson. Every email about someone’s last day broke another piece of our hearts. Now, whenever we hear anyone imply that these folks left as part of ‘the great resignation,we get angry. Because they are wrong. 

The people we know didn’t leave to “go find themselves” or to travel. They are working the same jobs they worked at Emerson, but elsewhere, for more appropriate pay, and more importantly – respect. To say otherwise is to pretend everything is fine and make it easy for Emerson’s leadership to avoid accountability. As union members and Emerson community members, we are not willing to do that. 

We know people who left because they burned out in understaffed departments. We know staff of color who left because of diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. We know women who were underpaid for the amount of labor they performed. They all made sacrifices for the college, and many felt cheated for caring as much as they did. Many of us who are still here feel the same way. 

So the Emerson Staff Union is taking a moment today to send Blue Valentines to Emerson’s leadership. We want them to know why we love this school, while informing them  what breaks our hearts about working here. 

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We know the fight to make this a better place is hard. We know it will take all of us working together to make it happen. So this Valentine’s Day, we invite you to join us in letting Emerson know what breaks your heart. You can write your own Blue Valentine, and if you have a moment, read some of ours.

We are not the first to express our broken-heartedness. In the last few weeks alone, students have been vocal about Emerson’s failure towards them, and the affiliated faculty in ELA shared some heartbreaking numbers in their own letter. 

It is hard to love Emerson. It is hard to see an institution with so many great ambitions fail to live up to its promises. As staff, it’s even harder to realize that those ambitions rely on your labor but don’t include you, that you’re merely an afterthought. Join us in reminding the administration that we are all — staff, students, faculty, and alums — part of the great community this institution says it wants to be.