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

Should we have school spirit?

Rachel Choi

After the events of orientation, where eager Emerson freshmen were welcomed by shrill undergrads serenading them in their cars, it’s natural for incoming students to wonder whether this experience is truly representative of the student life Emerson promises. 

The thrill of stepping foot into LB for the very first time, the curiosity about your first class’s location, and the anticipation of meeting your roommate are irreplaceable experiences. Being enveloped in an environment of like-minded peers and accomplished professors is nothing short of exhilarating.

The essence of camaraderie and school spirit is fundamental to the American college experience. Whether it’s the pride associated with ivy-covered walls or donning football jerseys, so much of the American college journey is rooted in loyalty to the institution you invest four crucial academic years of your life in. While embracing school spirit can offer comfort and a sense of belonging amidst the initially overwhelming and bewildering moments, we must acknowledge that universities and colleges are, at their core, business institutions. 

Should we set aside personal and professional demands solely for the sake of identifying as an Emerson Lion? The institutions to which we entrust our most critical academic years, along with our financial investments, should, in return, work to earn the loyalty of their student body.

It becomes difficult to feel pride for your school when it feels like everything else behind the rainbow-colored tutus and on-stage lip sync battles is simply mediocre. What does having school spirit look like at a profit-driven institution that does not fulfill its promises? 

Being the initial student-life-centered experience on campus, orientation should incorporate elements of the Emerson academic and professional journey alongside creating enjoyable, team-building activities. While orientation can and should indeed be a delightful experience for incoming students, offering them a chance to connect with peers and alleviate any initial stress, it should also serve as an opportunity for students to gain a clear understanding of what their professors and fellow students can contribute to their future careers. Students should know what exactly they are committing their time and money to. Additionally, discussions about tuition and financial aid must take center stage, especially as it becomes increasingly evident that the conventional business model of American universities and colleges is unsustainable.

In the pursuit of genuine school spirit and the fulfillment of promises made by academic institutions, there lies a shared responsibility between students and administrators. Orientation, as the first step in the college journey, should blend the excitement of campus life with a transparent discussion about the financial aspects of education. 

In an institution where tuition stands at around $52,190, not including room and board, it’s concerning that the administration isn’t actively guiding their students toward a more successful future during their orientation. This is particularly alarming, considering that the median income for the average Emerson student a decade after graduation is approximately $50,000 annually. This glaring discrepancy calls for a reevaluation of their approach, especially during orientation.

After all the icebreaker games and orientation leader dance performances, students are left to fend for themselves in terms of meeting professors, locating academic resources, and even navigating their class schedules. This does not provide students with a realistic overview of being an Emerson student.

The purpose of attending college, or any other institute of higher education, is ultimately tied to career aspirations and future success—whether that comes in the form of being able to think critically or to thrive in personal experiences. Most students arrive on campus with the expectation that the school they have worked hard to attend will meaningfully enrich the next four years of their lives.

With a semester now under their belts, it’s unsurprising that undergraduate students are persistently calling for greater financial transparency and improved funding from their incoming president. Time and again, students have voiced their concerns about the limited access to on-campus resources and underfunded student organizations. Given the considerable cost of an Emerson College education, students are consistently left questioning the value of their investment.

Despite being so expensive, Emerson’s administration doesn’t always adequately redistribute its funds in the form of resources for students. It makes sense why, especially for students whose families can not afford to pay full tuition, there would be significant standards set upon Emerson by the students. The school should be able to prove that it can make (at least) a vast majority of the student body feel like going here is simply worth the money. 

In light of these challenges, and recognizing how school spirit can wane in private universities and colleges facing similar issues as Emerson, it begs the question: What does genuine school spirit entail? Can school spirit encompass a collective push for increased accountability from our administration, standing in solidarity with our fellow classmates who share this campus? Is active involvement in the student union a manifestation of school spirit? Take a moment to reflect: Do you actively support student-run school organizations? Are you aware of our sports teams’ latest achievements? How can we cultivate a sense of pride and loyalty to our fellow Emersonians while simultaneously addressing the legitimate concerns about the management of our institution?

For so many Emerson students, school spirit comes at a price tag that they often cannot afford. While it can be invigorating for a young queer person or enthusiastic future filmmaker or any prospective student to enter a space where they may feel accepted for the first time, it doesn’t mean the risk is always worth the reward. 

When you choose a college, especially when doing so around age 17, it can often be difficult to see how your choice may affect you even in the next few years. Nevertheless, those students have the right to enjoy and in some ways love the college they go to. 

True school spirit goes beyond the surface and becomes a driving force for positive change, where loyalty to the institution is rooted in shared aspirations and the belief that the investment in one’s education will indeed be worth the cost.

Expecting students to love a college and spend so much of their time and money on it should obligate the school to make those sacrifices to validate the price tag. We support and champion the school we specifically chose, because of its esteemed professors, highlighted academic programs, and career opportunities. As we navigate the challenges of a costly education, students must continue to voice their concerns, demand greater transparency, and actively engage in shaping the institutions they invest their time and money in. If that’s not school spirit, we don’t know what is. 

View Comments (1)
About the Contributors
Shannon Garrido
Shannon Garrido, Editor-in-chief
Shannon Andera Garrido Berges (she/her) currently serves as editor-in-chief, formerly she managed global content and covers news centered around the Caribbean. Her interests include Dominican politics, pop culture, and environmental reporting. She is an undergrad at Emerson College, majoring in Journalism.
Hadera McKay
Hadera McKay, Content Managing Editor
Hadera McKay (she/her) is a senior at Emerson College pursuing her BA and accelerated MA in Publishing and Writing. She primarily writes on the convergence of Blackness and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in Catapult and she is currently an Editorial Assistant for the literary journal Ploughshares.
Sasha Zirin
Sasha Zirin, Assistant Living Arts Editor
Sasha Zirin is a journalism major and Assistant Living Arts Editor with a passion for art criticism. They love to cover film and take photos. They started on the Beacon as a correspondent in fall 2022 and have been around since. They’ve been on the editorial team for EM Magazine since fall 2022 as well. Outside of writing and taking photos, you’ll often find them drawing/painting, listening to music, and watching a lot of movies.
Hailey Akau
Hailey Akau, Assistant Multimedia Editor and Magazine Section Editor
Hailey Akau (she/her) is a writing, literature, and publishing major from Honolulu, Hawaii. She focuses mainly on illustrations and graphics for The Beacon but also contributes the occasional opinion as she sees fit. She also enjoys writing personal essays or prose and considers herself an em dash enthusiast.

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 *

  • C

    celia / Sep 27, 2023 at 1:38 pm

    fuck yeah!!