Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

President Bernhardt speaks out on Town Hall and first year at Emerson

Zhihao Wu

Early Monday morning, President Jay Bernhardt shared a “Letter to the Community” addressing the April 29 Town Hall and his first year at Emerson. 

Bernhardt acknowledged the “pain” and “passion” he heard through the 100-plus speakers at the Town Hall, which was organized by Emerson faculty members but adapted to allow those affected by the April 25 arrests the space to openly discuss their experiences. He emphasized how both Jewish and Palestinian individuals shared their difficult experiences at the Town Hall, which were “inconsistent” with the college’s values.

“We must all commit to ensuring that Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and hate in all its forms have no place at Emerson,” Bernhardt said. “We will continue to take the actions required to put this unyielding commitment into practice.”

Bernhardt expressed his regret for how the encampment ended in police action and praised staff who helped students, both in the early morning of April 25 and in the days following. He admitted the college administration “made mistakes in [its] actions and communications.”

Bernhardt emphasized the importance of coming together as a community as a form of healing. Looking towards the next steps, he said, “We will partner much more closely with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and parents to understand how to use these difficult lessons to foster learning for all.”

He also reaffirmed that the College will not publicly issue a statement about the ongoing war in the Middle East.

“Although Emerson College will not officially take a side in the war and in the Middle East, we can find common ground in declaring that the safety and well-being of all people must be respected and protected, whether in the Middle East or on our campuses,” he wrote. “As an individual, I join our community in grieving the tremendous loss of life and the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, mourning the tragic loss of life in Israel, and wishing freedom for all hostages. I pray for safety and peace for all in Palestine and Israel.”

Bernhardt went on to address four out of Emerson Students for Justice in Palestine and Emerson College Students’ Union’s seven demands of the college, noting that the Board of Trustees has considered financial divestment and may comply with this in the future. He also said the college will create a “campus bias rapid response team” to better respond to alleged bias incidents in the future. 

Bernhardt concluded the message by looking forward, once again highlighting the need to come together to heal the campus community. He offered possible future ideas to continue restoring a sense of community, including town hall meetings, smaller group meetings, or office hours with college leadership. 

He urged the Emerson community to rebuild and strengthen relationships. 

“Emerson is unique, creative, and strong,” he wrote. “And I am proud to be an Emersonian.”

View Comments (1)
About the Contributor
Merritt Hughes
Merritt Hughes, Opinion Co-Editor

Comments (1)

The Berkeley Beacon intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. We welcome strong opinions and criticism that are respectful and constructive. Comments are only posted once approved by a moderator and you have verified your email. All users are expected to adhere to our comment section policy. READ THE FULL POLICY HERE: https://berkeleybeacon.com/comments/
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • R

    roger house / May 7, 2024 at 3:10 pm

    Hmm, did anyone take the time to read this AI generated word salad? What stands out is that President Bernhardt never found it within his heart to apologize to Little Bryan Edouard for the abusive language of Trustee Chair Eric Alexander. Imagine the administration reaction if the Black male student had told the school aged relatives of Alexander or Bernhardt to “back the fuck up” in a public forum?

    Emerson students are not fooled by this President’s transparent attempt to rehabilitate his shaken image. Unlike the leaders of the faculty unions, according to the Boston Globe, the students can see through the game. Bernhardt must resign!