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First-ever Town Hall Forum Fosters Open Dialogue for Students, Faculty

Leading up to the forum department-specific boards were distributed around campus for students express their opinions, concerns, recommendations and more. Photo/David Ertischek ’01
By David Ertischek ’01

Several students, faculty and staff found an Emerson College first-of-its-kind town hall forum on Nov. 27 to be very constructive and forward-thinking.

The goal of the forum, held at the Bill Bordy Theater was for the community to continue dialogue from the past year to gain a better understanding on how to work more efficiently and beneficial. The theater was packed and quickly became standing room only, spilling into the balcony, as students and faculty broke into individual departments.

“This is a place to come together to hopefully make Emerson better,” said Raz Moayed ’20, executive vice president of the Student Government Association (SGA), which helped organize the event. She said that discussions were supposed to be a friendly dialogue about diversity, department-specific topics, and more, and that notes from the discussion tables would be compiled and distributed.

Students faculty around table
Visual and Media Arts Department faculty and students discuss department-specific topics. Photo/David Ertischek

At a Writing, Literature and Publishing table, faculty explained how curriculum is chosen. At a Communications Studies table, students said elective classes are often being used as place fillers when they can’t get into classes they need for their majors, and that more required classes are offered in the fall, making it harder for students going abroad. One solution presented was for better documentation of which classes are only offered in spring or fall.

A common conversation thread throughout the forum was for better communication throughout the campus.

“There’s so many emails, so many flyers. We’re constantly bombarded,” said Caroline King ’20, a Communication Studies major.

Journalism students said there isn’t often consistency in what they’re being taught, such as who they are allowed to quote in stories. Some students are told they may not quote Emerson students, while others are allowed to do so.

Associate Professor of Journalism Paul Mihailidis and Mark Leccese, associate professor of Journalism, discussed how professors struggle to balance providing a professional experience as well as space to learn.

For many students, the forum was a great opportunity to provide feedback to professors about curriculum and other academic-related topics.

“We usually use professor hours to talk about our academics and courses, but there aren’t many chances to talk about degrees and how to improve the programs,” said Ann Zhang ’20, media studies major and SGA spiritual life commissioner.

Up in the balcony, the Performing Arts Department engaged in animated conversation.

“As an acting major, we don’t get audition training,” said Conner McNinch ’20, theater & performance major.

Associate Professor and Head of Acting Sarah Hickler said the Performing Arts group spoke about changes regarding diversity that have occurred since last year. She said students and faculty feel that diversity is being included in most conversations.

“It’s really coming into the classrooms. All the work done on campus is coming into the program,” said Hickler.

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