New year, new initiatives

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • September 4, 2014

At issue: The start of the new school year brings the introduction of fresh iniatives.

Our take: Let's follow through this time.

A new school year has begun at Emerson, and with it, the inevitable surge of new initiatives from students and the administration. With this fresh influx of energy—amid the hustle and bustle of new classes, new clubs and orgs, and new goals—we have the opportunity to change how we, as a community, react to these proposals. 

The most prominent of these changes is the large-scale reform to the sexual assault response and response programs. It is important that the values and priorities established at the close of last year remain at the forefront of our school’s culture. This new set of guiding protocols introduced by President M. Lee Pelton provides not only a process that meets victims of alleged sexual assault with more options and understanding, but an opportunity for members of the larger Emerson community. As students, our connection to this institution and its practices extend far beyond our class schedule. Rather, it is incumbent upon us to take advantage of this new direction, spearheaded by the school’s administration, that many of us demanded just a year ago. 

When a group of students filed a federal complaint against the college last October, accusing administrators of mishandling their sexual assault cases, many were quick to post to social media expressing their outrage. Hundreds of students packed into the Cutler Majestic Theatre to share stories, pledge support, and question administrators. 

Similarly, when Pelton announced his series of talks surrounding gun violence after the Newtown, Conn. school shooting, there was a groundswell of support. The first few talks required additional screening rooms, where the panel discussions were broadcast on television. 

But as months passed, this energy waned. When students were invited to participate in the hiring process for a sexual assault prevention and response advocate last January, just four attended the first event—and no students attended the final session. Administrators found it difficult to fill a room during later gun violence panel discussions as well. 

As students, we’ve dropped the ball in the past, but the administration is also responsible for proposing new programs and resources that we eventually stop hearing about. Every year, curriculum changes are announced—from new internship credit policies to larger course selection practices—that we still haven’t seen put in place. And students still must look at the Little Building scaffolding, a constant reminder of the promised, but not yet fulfilled, renovations. As stakeholders in the Emerson community, students have the right to make sure their needs are met, and it is our privilege and responsibility to hold administrators accountable when they don’t keep their pledges.

Let’s learn our lessons and push forward. We can do better this year. We owe it to our school, and ourselves, to truly follow up on our promises this time.