Trends and triumphs: A year’s worth of culture in review

by Anna Buckley / Beacon Staff, Agatha Kereere / Beacon Staff, and Rebecca Szkutak / Beacon Staff • April 30, 2015

Free and For Sale gains popularity

As students turn their dorm rooms upside down during the end-of-year pack up, there are usually two options they mull over: keep or throw away? The Free and For Sale page for the Emerson community on Facebook provides a third choice.

“I chose [to post in] the group because I’d seen success on the part of my friends in selling their clothes,” said Emma Zirkle, a junior writing, literature, and publishing major.

The Facebook group currently has over 2,300 members, and a typical post asks if anyone has a particular textbook they are willing to sell for less than $20. Other recent posts advertise spring clothes and accessories for sale like the white corduroy shorts and light green nail polish that Zirkle is trying to sell.

Though the group has been active for over a year, a new trend has recently emerged: reselling items from on- and off-campus convenience stores. As the school year winds down, items from the shops in the Little Building and Piano Row are being bought by students and then sold on Free and For Sale at a lower price.

“I think this group became more popular with reselling things from the Max or C-store, because [the] prices are insane, and people are sick of it,” said Christina Catucci, a junior visual and media arts major.

Catucci said she has made $300 from selling items like trash bags, clothes, and Lipton Chai Cinnamon tea.

 “Logically, why would I pay $3 for a protein bar when someone is selling it for 50 cents?” Catucci said. 

 Harry Mardirossian, a freshman marketing communication major, saw an opportunity to make some money by using his Board Bucks to buy the pint-sized containers of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, sold for $5.30 on campus, then selling them to students for $2.

 “I think once people saw the [resale] happening without [people] getting in trouble and with posts getting a lot of hits, they realized it’s a viable way to get money back from the locked commitment that is Board Bucks,” said Mardirossian.

Zirkle agreed that these resale offers are attractive to students.

“It seems like either the students have a ton of Board Bucks left or they’re basically out of Board Bucks and need to use real money to eat anyway, and the offers on Free and For Sale are discounted,” said Zirkle.

 Marissa Bracker, a freshman writing, literature, and publishing major, said the Facebook page has received increased attention recently because of its ability to bring different people together who looking for similar goods, like food, clothes, and books—and its convenience.

 “You can just meet up in a common campus area like the Little Building lobby, which makes it more trustworthy than using, say, a broader online service like eBay,” said Bracker, who said she has made $5 from the group so far.

People seem to be able to find what they are looking for, said Mardirossian, who said he has made a total of $90.

 “At the end of the day, everybody wins,” said Mardirossian. “And people are realizing that, so we all might as well cash in, right?”

 

Got buns, hun? Students weigh in on potentially dying hairstyle trend

Jaws dropped around the world the day the man bun’s biggest proponent, actor Jared Leto, lopped off his luscious locks and tossed his hair ties. But debate over the allure of the man bun had become heated even before that infamous day this March. 

In February, a comedy group from Cape Town, South Africa called Derick Watts & The Sunday Blues uploaded a video to YouTube in which vigilantes run around snipping off hipsters’ carefully knotted buns, narrowly escaping in their van. Granted, it was a joke, but the sentiment still stands: The man bun has made frenemies.

Beacon fashion columnist Jennifer Ortakales said she believes that while men’s style staples like beards and the James Dean pompadour are unchanging, the man bun might be on its way out, and the end of the semester may mark the end of the movement on Emerson’s campus.

“Man buns will always have a place among rockers and male models whose long locks are just a part of their style,” Ortakales said, “but most men aren't willing to make that sort of commitment to a trend.”

In October, the Beacon surveyed the campus regarding the rise of the man bun, and senior journalism major Cody Bowman said he was about two months away from the full-fledged top knot that was in vogue at the time. Since then, he said he’s given up.

“It takes a long time to grow, and it's hard to maintain,” Bowman said. “While it looks cool, it's not appropriate for most jobs or internships. I can't go on an interview with a man bun.”

GQ Magazine declared that, “The man bun is dead” in a tweet on January 1, 2015. Instead, it suggests that trend-savvy men break the norm in 2015 and go for a change—whether that means growing their hair out and styling it with molding clay, because apparently “matte” is “back,” or do a 180 and embrace the buzzed look, a la Eminem circa the ’90s. 

“Trends tend to go from one extreme to another, so maybe men will start shaving it all off,” Ortakales agreed.

Junior writing, literature, and publishing major Kaitlyn Coddington said personally, she doesn’t understand the gendering of the hairstyle.

“I feel that both men and women have long hair. They're both going to put it up in buns,” she said. “I don't view this as a trend in the first place.”

 

Protests poignant on- and off-campus

Over the last year, Emerson students have chanted, “I can’t breathe” and “Black lives matter,” organized walkouts from class to protest discrimination, and participated in nationwide marches addressing minimum wage and equality.

Last semester, students were dissatisfied with the food they were being served in the dining hall. Determined to make a change, sophomore performing arts major Brigitte Bakalar created a petition that received over 500 signatures and started a dialogue on campus about the college’s eateries.

“Make our dining hall sanitary,” the petition stated. “Serve high quality ingredients and food. Lower the price of our food and make it affordable.” 

Students have also helped Emerson food service employees unionize. Members of the campus group Progressives and Radicals in Defense of Employees, or PRIDE, advocated for a fair unionization process throughout the year, and in October, Unite Here Local 26, which represents hospitality workers in Boston, accepted the Emerson employees’ request. Students have since helped them campaign for fairer treatment practices and higher wages. 

After grand juries declined to indict white police officers in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, black men who were unarmed during their arrests, students took to the streets. Over 100 Emerson students participated in a walkout, followed by a citywide march, on Dec. 4 to show they disapproved of the decisions. Elizabeth Finnerty, a junior communication studies major, was one of the students who participated.

“I was like, ‘Of course I was going to participate in this,’” said Finnerty. “I had gone to a couple of other protests around Boston, and when I heard Emerson was doing one, I immediately signed up. It captures the attention of people in the city, and it gets people talking.”   

A few months later, shortly after coming back from winter break, Emerson canceled five days of class because of the snow and cold weather. To maintain its accreditation and federal funding, the college is required to provide makeup days for missed classes, so the administration rescheduled some courses on Saturdays. Many students were upset, saying weekends provide necessary time for homework and jobs.

An online petition was started by Isabel Mader, a senior writing, literature, and publishing major, to abolish Saturday classes. It received over 500 signatures. Although the Saturday makeup days were not removed, students who had prior engagements would not get marked down for not attending, and the school extended the finals schedule so more makeup days could be added during the week.

“I work 30 hours a week and go to class full-time and [I’m] trying to decide between my education and supporting myself,” said Mader. “I wanted the option for all of us to support ourselves, get all of our classes in, and not be penalized.”

In the spring, as prospective students arrived on campus for Picture Yourself at Emerson day, current and former students protested for greater transparency and accountability regarding sexual assault at the college. The demonstration was organized by was organized by Jillian Doherty, a former student who is suing the school for allegedly mishandling her rape case. Participants talked with and handed out information to parents and accepted students about what they called Emerson’s shortcomings in the past.

As the year began to wind down, students still remained actively engaged in different causes. On April 14, Emerson students participated in a citywide march to raise the minimum wage to $15, part of a national initiative called Fight for $15. On Tuesday, several hundred students staged a walkout to demand campuswide cultural competency and sensitivity classes, taking over a monthly meeting for professors to share their experiences facing racism at Emerson and call for more support.

“The only time actual real change has occurred is when people band together and hit the street and when people band together and write a document,” said Mader. “It works when you have enough people.”