Emerson needs to help students with the financial stress of this closure. While the administration has put some plans into motion, we’ve heard from a lot of students in the last few days about what they still need from the college. This crisis isn’t ‘handled’ until Emerson steps up and meets these needs.
- We need a statement from the college condemning xenophobia and sinophobia on campus. We need the college to center this message in its own standalone email, unlike how its prior messaging on COVID-19 has tucked mentions of resisting sinophobia and xenophobia in the bottom section of its emails.
- We need a refund for the remaining spring 2020 room and board costs, as set as a precedent by Suffolk University, Amherst College, Northeastern University, MIT, Tufts University, and many others.
- We need to be charged the cost of online class tuition for the 2020 spring semester ($12,448)* and be refunded the $11,832 difference from what we have already paid for in-person tuition. ELA internship credits should be refunded in full. While students can work remotely, they lose crucial networking opportunities which might justify its cost.
* Cost of online classes calculated by multiplying the $778 per-credit-hour cost of summer courses x 16 credits.
- We need Emerson to give students the option to convert their classes to be pass/fail. It is unrealistic to hold students to the grading procedures of an in-person class when we are learning in an entirely new environment and many of us are under the stress of recent unemployment and food insecurity. Other colleges such as Smith College, Grinnell College, MIT, Cornell University, Penn State, and Georgetown University have already put in this measure.
If you are a student, please share your statement about how a pass/fail option would help you in this anonymous google form! We will be sharing these comments with the academic Provost.
- We need refunds for the cost of travel, refunds for the cost of any cancelled trips for students who had to return home from studying abroad, and we need Emerson to purchase travel insurance for all future study abroad programs (including Kasteel Well and Global Pathways).We need reimbursement for students who purchased storage and evacuated campus before free storage provided by Emerson was announced.
- We need Emerson to make its budget publicly available on the Emerson College website and/or Ecommon so students can verify any future claims the college makes about COVID-19 affecting the college’s finances. We need Emerson to notify the entire Emerson community by email when the budget is published.
- We need Emerson to provide a food stipend for food-insecure students in Boston the same way that they provide it for ELA students. It should be open to all students and not require students to prove financial need to access this.
- We need all hourly and salaried workers to receive full pay during the closure, regardless of ability to attend work during the closure. This includes student employees. We need Emerson to cover all health and crisis related costs of COVID-19 for all hourly and salaried workers, as well as students who have insurance through Emerson.
- We need Emerson to publish updated emergency procedures so that our community is better prepared to handle crises (such as COVID-19) in the future. Emerson has not updated their emergency procedures since the Boston Bombing and that is unacceptable.
- We need the class of 2024 students to be continually notified as the college progresses in its decision making, and that class of 2024 students are updated on the likelihood that fall classes will be conducted remotely and how that will impact their room and board costs for the fall 2020 semester.
If you support these needs being met, copy and paste them into an email to the Dean of Campus Life, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Hoppe’s reply, plus our answers to his questions:
Thank you for writing and sharing this list. As you might imagine, this week has been focused on assisting students as they transition off-campus, nevertheless, I will share your thoughts with the appropriate colleagues around campus.
We know this is a busy and stressful time to be a college administrator. Thank you for your timely response and for your engagement with our listed needs. We appreciate that you are listening to us during this stressful time. Thank you for passing this list on to other offices!
With regard to point #1, I agree it is important that the college condemn xenophobia and sinophobia. Many in our community are suffering in silence, and we must do more to address this. I know there will be further statements in the future.
We look forward to these upcoming statements. We also want to politely point out that while it is true that some may be suffering in silence, many students have been vocal about suffering from racism on campus for quite some time.
A few quick notes:
The college has shared, as noted on the emerson.edu/covid-19/FAQ website last week, that a credit on room and board expenses for students who have moved off-campus is forthcoming. The final details of that decision are being clarified this week and will be shared in the next few days.
Thank you for sharing this link with us! We were aware of this statement, and are pushing for the credit to be offered as a refund to those who want it. Many low-income students need the money now.
Regarding point #6, in conjunction with SGA, the annual budget forum had been scheduled for March 18th but has been postponed due to the current situation. The college will work with SGA leadership to reschedule this forum to take place online in the coming weeks.
We appreciate the update and invitation to the budget forum! However, we are asking for something different—in this need, specifically, we are asking for the college’s budget to be shared publicly and indefinitely with the Emerson community.
With regard to point # 7, could you share more about the noted stipend for food-insecure students at Emerson Los Angeles? I’m not aware of any such program, nor are administrators at Emerson Los Angeles. Perhaps we are using different language?
Thank you for asking for clarification! We should have worded this more specifically. We are referring to the ELA meal plan as a food stipend—the plan where students get grocery store gift cards to purchase food. The ELA students still have access to this (partially for some, depending on their current location) but Boston and returned Kasteel Well students need this type of resource as well.
With regard to point #9, the college has frequently updated its emergency plan, including several times since my arrival in 2016. You can find the plans here: https://www.emerson.edu/departments/emergency-management.
We have nothing to say here except for we’re sorry! We were given incorrect information.
I know the events of the past two weeks have been disruptive and difficult for all. I wish each of you the best during this time of transition. Please let me know if you have any additional questions or if I can be helpful. Please also forgive the standard response, but I wanted to get back to each of you quickly.
We completely understand why you do not have time to write an original response to each of us—we’re sure you’re overwhelmed with emails right now, and we appreciate your timely response.
Dear Jim Hoppe,
I know this is a busy and stressful time to be a college administrator. Thank you for your timely response and for your engagement with these listed student needs. I appreciate that you are listening to us during this stressful time. Thank you for passing this list on to other offices!
I look forward to these upcoming statements condeming xenophobia and sinophobia on campus. I also want to politely point out that while it is true that some may be suffering in silence, many students have been vocal about suffering from racism on campus for quite some time.
Thank you for sharing the link to info about the partial credit for room and board with me! I am aware of this statement, and the need I listed is pushing for the credit to be offered as a refund to those who want it. Many low-income students need the money now.
I also appreciate the update and invitation to the budget forum! However, need #6 is asking for something different—in this need, specifically, students are asking for the college’s budget to be shared publicly and indefinitely with the Emerson community.
Thank you for asking for clarification on need #7! We should have worded this more specifically. We are referring to the ELA meal plan as a food stipend—the plan where students get grocery store gift cards to purchase food. The ELA students still have access to this (partially for some, depending on their current location) but Boston and returned Kasteel Well students need this type of resource as well.
As for need #9, we have nothing to say here except for we’re sorry! We were given incorrect information.
I completely understand why you do not have time to write an original response to each of us—I’m sure you’re overwhelmed with emails right now, and I appreciate your timely response.