Op-Ed: A student’s take on student orgs

By Monica Petrucci

What do you see as the value of student organizations at Emerson? Would your experience at Emerson have been different without them?

As a shaky-handed freshman, I knew almost no one outside my suite when I arrived at Emerson Dance Company auditions a week into college. It was early morning; I sat and stretched, not knowing what to expect of this club or of the people around me.

Eventually, the student leaders of the company, known as the E-board (short for executive board), went to the front of the room and introduced themselves. It was then that I noticed something startling: there were no real adults in charge. I was so used to high school clubs where kids were told what to do by an adult or teacher. Was this how all the clubs at Emerson worked?

“Relax and have fun today,” they reminded us, “all of us are here if you need anything.”

The choreographers and E-board members seemed so organized and mature in their positions. It astonished me that students as young as sophomores were equipped to manage and discipline people their age and older, sometimes even friends they spend their weekends with, in order to maintain a structured and productive environment. This is real-world experience like nothing else; once students like these graduate, they’ll be more prepared for a career with a leadership position than anyone else. This is why Emerson students are known for over-committing ourselves to student-run organizations — we’re eager for successful futures.

Student leaders take a risk when they’re willing to attain a position as demanding as one in an Emerson organization. On top of handling regular coursework and sometimes a part-time job, they put a strenuous amount of time and attention into managing their peers. They put personal bonds and feelings toward subordinates aside in order to remain as unbiased and professional as they would if they were working off-campus. They’re devoted, ambitious, and passionate about their work.

This dynamic among students, with leaders and learners collaborating, results in a productive and spirited environment that exists in shows, publications, and even at the EVVYs. With all these impressive productions, students involved become more comfortable in roles of leadership and with responsibilities created by their friends and classmates. They set us up for success. Although I’ve been an Emerson student for a year, the achievements of student-led endeavours continue to astound me.

The orgs allow students to become part of the real-world before they graduate. They put us in leadership positions, show us how to interact with each other in a professional manner, and give us priceless experiences that set us up for our future careers. Some orgs have even been helpful enough to land internships and jobs for students before and after graduation. With no teachers or elders guiding us, Emerson org members graduate from school feeling like they’ve already been part of the “real world” for the past four years.