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

Student union takes initial strides in 2023-2024 school year goals

Kellyn Taylor

The Emerson College Students’ Union (ECSU) met last Friday to build on current goals for the 2023–2024 school year. Their plans range from developing mutual aid projects to creating a student-run leftist literary magazine. 

In the summer of 2022, the ECSU updated a point program with nine primary objectives based on feedback from the student body. The program is meant to organize the direction of their work and pinpoint the issues they wish to bring to Emerson’s administrations.

The point program addresses issues such as student satisfaction with Emerson’s financial aid, commitment to affirmative action to the furthest legal extent, expansion of resources provided by the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), accessible healthcare services, and several others.

This school year, one of the ECSU’s foremost goals is to negotiate raising Emerson students’ financial aid in proportion to tuition increases. Emerson’s first-place ranking on The Princeton Review’s list of colleges with the worst overall student satisfaction with financial aid has propelled this demand.

Esme Elliot, chair of visual culture, outlined the ECSU’s steps in addressing this issue.

“The student union’s mission is collective bargaining with the school, [getting] the students represented, and to hopefully one day negotiate our tuition contracts and our housing contracts,” Elliot said. 

Within this issue, the ECSU also emphasized the possibility of marginalized, lower-income students being prevented from affording education at Emerson. Amiri Sillah, chair of student health, aims to unite more Emerson student groups to make progress towards this goal.  

“That’s our main priority this year—to find more organizations to sign on and use their platform to spread our collective message and keep marginalized students at this school,” Sillah said during the meeting.

Students United for People’s Education (SUPE), formerly known as the Financial Aid Coalition, is a collective that is promoting these demands. Twelve student organizations joined the coalition at its founding, and the ECSU plans to reach out to those organizations’ leaders to expand on last year’s work. 

The ECSU also aims to launch a program that connects student union ambassadors from different colleges nationwide. Their goals are to initiate conversations about the issues student bodies are facing, build a community across the country, and provide national demands with a national platform.

Emma Cudahy, chair of information, believes this national collaboration has the potential to develop mutually beneficial relationships.

“Even if our programs aren’t exactly the same as those organizations, we can learn from each other a lot,” Cudahy said. “We can learn from each other’s programs and what students outside of Emerson are doing.” 

Dylan Young, chair of national development, said that cooperating with other colleges can also allow the ECSU to expand the program to other schools.

“We’ve built ourselves up, so we have a lot of tools,” Young said. “Let’s help other people and use these tools to develop programs in other places and respond to their needs.” 

Another idea being explored is unionizing on-campus student workers, including resident advisors, front desk attendants, and library assistants. Inspired by colleges such as Boston University and Tufts University who have already unionized student workers, the ECSU seeks to ignite collective action and ensure student workers’ rights are being protected. 

The ECSU is also working to make COVID-19 tests more accessible, especially considering the recent spike in positive cases on campus. Emerson will only administer tests if the student is actively symptomatic, but the ECSU is pushing for an alternative solution.

“A lot of people are being exposed to COVID constantly and they might need to know or test for something,” Cudahy said. “The official Emerson advice is to go to CVS and spend $20 on rapid tests. We’re trying to figure out alternatives for it.”

There are also a few creative projects that are underway. The ECSU is creating a leftist literary magazine called “Strangest Tongues” in partnership with Young Democratic Socialists of Emerson College (YDSA). There are also plans to organize an arts festival to be held in the Boston Common sometime this school year.

“With all the creativity, it harkens back to the old labor slogan: “Bread and Roses,” Elliot said. “Yes, we want bread—we’re fighting for increased financial aid and to stop tuition hikes—but we want roses too.”

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About the Contributor
Sabrina Lam
Sabrina Lam, Staff Writer
Sabrina Lam (she/her) is a sophomore journalism major from Manchester, Connecticut. She is currently a Staff Writer for The Berkeley Beacon. Outside of the Beacon, Sabrina can be found strolling on Newbury St. or reading a book in The Boston Public Garden.

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