Washington program will be offered in the fall semester only, Andersen says

Emerson’s Washington, D.C. program will be cut to fall semesters only after this spring because more opportunities are offered to students in the fall, said Janis Andersen, dean of the school of communication.

“The fall semester has more legislative activity and often lends itself to better internship experiences,” Andersen wrote in an e-mail to iThe Beacon/i. Though it is slightly more expensive for the college to do the program both semesters, Andersen said the move was not made for financial reasons.

The program will be offered only one semester for at least five years, or until at least 50 students apply. Since some students had already planned their course schedules around the program this spring, Andersen and communication studies chair Richard West decided to implement the new policy after the current semester.

The program, which teams Emerson students with the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, began this past fall. Eight students participated during the 2008-2009 academic year, according to the office of International Study and External Programs.

Andersen said having one larger group in Washington will be beneficial for networking purposes, a view shared by Alison Klein, a print journalism major and former iBeacon/i contributor who is heading to Washington this semester with only two other Emerson students.

“I think it really would be better if there were more people,” she said. “But the program works with the Washington Center, so there will be a lot of students there; they just won’t be Emerson students.”

West and Andersen both believe students will have an advantage because the city is busier during the fall than during the spring session.

“After summer recess, everyone’s really fired up. There’s just a higher level of activity in the city at that time,” West said. He said most seniors he spoke to would prefer to stay in D.C. for the fall semester because students didn’t want to be in Washington for their graduation.

One student currently enrolled in the program, Ryan Sleury, a senior communication studies major, said he’s happy to be participating in the spring.

“In terms of looking for a job, the spring semester worked out perfect for me,” Sleury said.

If he lands a job in Washington, Sleury said he won’t have to worry about returning to Boston to search for employment after the program ends.

Currently, the D.C. program is geared towards journalism and communication studies majors, but all majors are welcome to participate. However, few students interviewed by iThe Beaconi, especially underclassmen, said they knew it exists. Several said they felt the D.C. program is inadequately advertised.

“The L.A. program and the [Kasteel] Well are really the only programs you hear about,” said Nick Murray, a freshman film production major.

West said he and others involved in the program had done their best to spread the word.

“We took out two full-page ads in iThe Beacon/i, we had two informational sessions, it’s been advertised in classes,” he said. “Aside from walking around wearing a sandwich board, I don’t know what else we can do.”

West said he wants to eventually expand the program to more students but that, for the next few years, the number of students in the program will need to be kept low.

“We just don’t have the resources to expand it to the size of the L.A. program,” he said. “If 25 people wanted to go next fall, we’d have a problem.”