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

‘This is not how we treat our students’: Members of FSJP react to Emerson arrests

Courtesy FSJP
FSJP Emerson
Courtesy FSJP

Following the arrests of 13 students outside the presidential inauguration last Friday, many members of Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FSJP) have rallied together in support of free speech and pro-Palestine rhetoric on campus. 

According to Anna Feder, an Emerson staff member who recently wrote a “Letter to the Editor” regarding open discourse on Palestine, many faculty and staff rushed to the precinct to support the arrested students. 

“I was working from home and had the investiture ceremony in the background streaming on my computer,” Feder, head of Film Exhibition and Festival Programs and member of FSJP, said in an interview with the Beacon. “We were all in contact—the Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine—and some folks mobilized to help and be supportive.” 

Though several faculty and staff waited around six hours for students to be released, they were all there of their own accord, according to Feder. 

“No one was there in an official capacity,” she said. “The college didn’t send anyone to look after those students who were [detained].” 

Despite the circumstances, Feder described her time at the precinct as “one of the most beautiful acts of community care [she’d] witnessed in almost 17 years at Emerson.” Faculty and staff offered the students food, rides, and phone calls as they were released. 

“Everyone was just sharing their own personal resources to try to make sure that those students all felt loved and supported and really respected,” Feder said. “At the very end, [the students] were all chanting together and jumping around for joy, essentially to be in community with each other and to be doing this work together. Everyone was so proud of the students for gathering.” 

Vinicius Navarro, an associate professor in the Visual Media Arts Department and a member of FSJP, also found a sense of community in supporting students at the precinct.

“This was a very difficult experience for [the students,] but I can also say that what I saw there was a very strong community,” he said. “I saw students who are courageous, who are resilient, and who are deeply committed to justice. For me, it was inspiring to see that community of students.” 

Nevertheless, faculty, staff, and students have expressed outrage regarding this incident and what it could mean for freedom of speech on campus. 

“The motto of the institution is ‘expression necessary to evolution,’ and what expression could be more necessary to evolution than protest and speaking up around injustice?” Feder said. “This is not how we treat our students. That’s a shared Emerson value amongst the faculty and staff: that we care for our students. We encourage them to speak up when they see injustice.” 

Navarro also expressed disappointment in the college, especially regarding the fact that 11 of the 13 students arrested are Black and brown. 

“I am profoundly upset,” Navarro said. “I am disappointed [in] the college. We have to remind ourselves that the majority of the students who were arrested were students of color. And there are echoes here of a very disturbing narrative that we’re all familiar with—a narrative that treats people of color as security risks. And I am also very disturbed by that.” 

According to Navarro, the arrests themselves are alarming, but the implications are not. 

“The arrest of our students is shocking,” he said. “But it’s also the culmination of several months in which pro-Palestine students have felt intimidated by the college administration. The administration has limited the students’ access to college spaces and infrastructure, has subjected them to repeated disciplinary hearings, and continues to do so. This has fostered a culture of fear and anxiety that should have no place in an institution of higher education.” 

When asked about how these arrests will impact the school community, Feder expressed her belief that it would only motivate students to make their voices even more heard. 

“It’s going to rally a lot of people who haven’t been motivated to speak up,” Feder said. “It’s going to be a catalyst for a lot of folks who haven’t found a way into this conversation.” 

In response to this same question, Navarro calls upon the college to listen to its students’ needs and concerns. 

“The college should get closer to its students,” he said. “The students need to feel welcome. They need to feel safe. And if you ask any of the students who were arrested if they feel comfortable, welcome, and safe in the college, I doubt they would say that they feel safe at the college at this moment. So the college has a lot of work to do in terms of regaining a sense of safety on campus.”

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About the Contributor
Sophia Pargas
Sophia Pargas, Editor-in-Chief
Sophia Pargas (she/her) is a senior Journalism and Marketing Communications double major from Miami, Florida. She has served on the Beacon since her sophomore year, using it as an opportunity to grow professionally and cover the things that matter to her—personal narratives, culture, ethics, arts, and much more. Outside of the paper, Sophia is a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi, an Engagement Lab student fellow, and has held several journalism and marketing internships at NBCUniversal, NBC South Florida, NBC Boston, and WCVB. To learn more about Sophia, her passions, and her experience, visit her personal portfolio "The SCP Journal." 

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  • J

    Jad Melki / Mar 31, 2024 at 5:21 pm

    Hey Berkeley Beacon staff, excellent reporting on the issue. Very impressed with the professionalism and courage. Keep it up!

  • B

    Brynna / Mar 31, 2024 at 4:11 pm

    How times change. The generation who raised me got arrested on a regular basis. Generally no one was charged and the experiences inspired ideas for moving forward.
    When one chooses to advocate in a manner as visceral as the FSJP one must make choices, and yes, often sacrifices . Choice means you give up one thing for another. Sacrifice happens when that choice is painful. People have been sacrificing for as long as we have existed..
    At the moment students are choosing to focus the attention of the moment on themselves. Valid choice, but is it helping the Gazans who are dying in the meantime? Let’s remind ourselves that the situation in Gaza is an emergency.
    Any time and energy you spend on your own need for personal justification- and this is valid – will be time and energy lost for Gazans.
    At least you have a choice.