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An Update from the President

Dear Emersonians,

The last few weeks have provided a chance for many of us to communicate face-to-face and listen to each other about the concerns of our community. Like many other College campuses, Emerson has felt the anguish and stress of world events, and we realize that we need to do more to help our community heal. Although Emerson is not alone in facing these challenges, our response must be grounded in our shared commitment to open dialogue, respect for diverse perspectives, and unwavering support for all backgrounds and identities.

With these shared commitments in mind, I have engaged in online and in-person dialogue with hundreds of Emersonians since my investiture ceremony. Earlier this evening, I met with the arrested students, apologized in person, and learned a lot about areas where we must improve as a campus and community. Hearing their perspectives was vital to me personally, and I am eager to hear from the wider community. We are committed to generating and implementing concrete actions informed by these discussions, and we have already committed to the following initial actions:

1. We are creating immediate and ongoing opportunities to engage with campus leaders through diverse forms of dialogue, including facilitated listening sessions, leadership office hours, and online anonymous feedback. You can sign up for the listening sessions and office hours and submit anonymous feedback for the administration and/or for strategic planning purposes.

2. We will establish two new presidential advisory committees, one for staff and one for students. Our goal is to launch these committees in the fall semester. Much like the President and Provost Faculty Advisory Committee and the Presidential Advisory Group for Community and Equity (PAG), I will meet with these groups regularly to hear ideas and concerns that need attention and action. The staff group will include both union and non-union representation.

3. We will establish a team and process for gathering input from all stakeholders in our community, including representative students, about our policies and enforcement procedures related to free expression and protests. The feedback will inform changes to our policies and procedures to ensure they are consistent with our shared norms and values.

4. We will develop a new protest response team with faculty, staff, and student representation to help support campus demonstrations in a manner that respects the right to protest while enforcing our policies and guidelines related to protecting safety and campus operations.

5. We will provide the Emerson College Police Department additional support and training in anti-bias practices and de-escalation procedures.

6. We will significantly increase our educational offerings and efforts to combat Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of discrimination and hate on campus.

Our college’s senior leadership and I are committed to doing a better job of actively listening to our community, learning how your experiences on campus impact your learning and work, and recognizing when processes need improvement to ensure Emerson lives its core values.  

Emerson has always strived to foster an environment of creativity and expression. I’m confident in our ability to provide avenues for thoughtful dialogue and discourse and even more confident in our ability to learn from each other and grow closer as a community.

Sincerely,

Jay Bernhardt,
President

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