When dozens of prospective students and their families visit campus April 10 for Picture Yourself at Emerson, an all-day event for accepted students to learn more about the school, they may learn more than they bargained for.
Jillian Doherty, a former student who filed a lawsuit against Emerson and four administrators for allegedly mishandling her sexual assault case, is organizing a demonstration to inform incoming students about what she believes are Emerson’s shortcomings in the past.
“It was scary for me to imagine other people being blindsided,” she said, noting that students coming from other states maybe be unaware of the complaints against the school. “I don’t want it to be that people go to Emerson expecting, like I did, that they will take care of us when, right now, they’re saying, ‘We don’t have the legal duty to do [that].’”
Emerson administrators have consistently said they are committed to the college’s sexual assault response and prevention programs, and have said the language in its legal filings has been widely misunderstood.
Doherty, in her first published interview with the press since her lawsuit was filed, said the demonstration will be peaceful.
“I’m not planning on attacking them,” she said. “That’s not the point of this.”
Doherty said she doesn’t want to dissuade students from attending the college, but rather provide a warning.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say, ‘Don’t go to Emerson at all.’ I would say, ‘Go into Emerson knowing these things,’ knowing that if, God forbid, anything happened, don’t necessarily go to the school. Maybe go to BPD. Or maybe if you run into a problem with administrators, maybe not go to certain administrators,” she said. “Keep in mind what we’re saying so you don’t stumble through the same messes that we did. Learn from our mistakes.”
Doherty, who spent Wednesday afternoon making posters for the event in Emerson’s library with a friend, said that she would like to return to the college one day to finish her degree.
“I really do love Emerson,” she said. “It’s not that Emerson is the enemy in my head. To me, the enemy is the rape culture.”
As of press time, nearly 30 people said they planned to attend on the Facebook event page.