Emerson’s Student Government Association recently led efforts to help students save money and the planet, resulting in pilot programs offering free internship credits and sustainable laundry sheets.
Can’t Put a Price on Experience
Internship experiences are very important to Emersonians because they provide hands-on work experience. But until recently, students with a full course load (16 credits) had to pay $1,634 to participate in a fall or spring Professional Development Experience (PDE) non-tuition credit course. (Students taking 12 course credits in a semester have not needed to pay extra for a PDE, and students don’t pay for internships at nonprofit organizations as part of the Community Development Experience (CDE) class).
The SGA led efforts to eliminate that extra cost and worked with the administration, and a pilot program approved in August for the fall and spring semesters is providing one PDE without cost. Students who want to do more than one internship still need to pay for PDEs after the initial tuition-free one granted from the pilot program.
“We wanted a chance for every student to have an experience through internships,” said Carol Spector, director of Career Development Center. “We didn’t want students to not be able to do it because of the barrier of costs. I don’t want students to graduate and say they couldn’t do an internship because they couldn’t afford it.”
As an international student, SGA Executive President Pranit Chand ’23 said he’s required to participate in an internship as part of his international student status.
“This was a huge financial burden for students,” said Chand. “I did it myself in the spring and paid extra. This makes sense to me.”
After his PDE, Chand had a conversation with Spector about reducing the cost. He could tell that Spector supported the idea. That led to a conversation with interim Provost Jan Roberts-Breslin, who supported creating the pilot program.
There are 18 students enrolled in PDEs this semester. The numbers go up significantly during the summer, when students have more scheduling flexibility without full course loads. Last summer 57 students participated in PDEs, and 10 students participated in CDEs.
“This program is one of the pieces to make PDEs more accessible and provide more equity to students,” said Drew Genova, assistant director of career access and equity for the Career Development Center.
Green and Clean
After learning about the BIPOC-owned company Generation Conscious, SGA Vice President Neiko Pittman ‘24 thought offering students a new laundry sheet option was good idea.
“I wanted to pursue using the product because I think it does closely reflect the values of our school, and social values that I find very important, personally,” said Pittman.
He said that the company also focuses on eco-classism, and addresses the notion that environmentalism has become financially inaccessible. Currently, the product is free, and there is an ample supply. After the pilot program expires, the cost would be about $11.50 for 50 sheets.
A new sustainable laundry product dispenser is in the Little Building before the tap-in desk, so all students, including off-campus students, can access it.
“The sheets are healthier for the environment and cheaper than Tide Pods as well, which makes it one of the very few sustainable products that can be affordable by the majority of people,” said Pittman. “And truly, if we, as an institution, care about the environment and want to execute systemic change, this is a company and product that we should be supporting.”
Campus Sustainability Manager Jennifer Lamy said SGA’s partnership with Generation Conscious is a great example of student leadership on sustainability.
“Reducing the environmental impact of our campus is a team effort and should not be limited to explicitly environmentally focused groups and employees,” said Lamy. “I am especially excited about this partnership because of the company’s focus on affordability in addition to environmental sustainability.”