Emerson is too expensive. And other truths we all know, but shouldn't accept. Spring 2020 Disorientation Guide by the Emerson College Student Union


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Emerson is too expensive. And other truths we all know, but shouldn't accept. Spring 2020 Disorientation Guide by the Emerson College Student Union




Boston, Massachusetts



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Spring 2020 Disorientation Guide
By the Emerson College Student Union

We hope you had a great first semester and a restful winter break. By now, you've experienced some
of Emer$on's trademark rites of passage. You've
probably had friends transfer or drop out after being
priced out of this school. You've probably cried at
least once about all of the debt you're going in to
stay here. And now, in all likelihood, you're about to
experience your first tuition increase. Now that will
officially make you an Emersonian!
This Dis-Orientation guide gets into some hard
truths about Emer$on. But we're not going to leave
you hanging with all of the bad stuff -- that would be
depressing and unproductive!
This guide is filled with ways you can help organize
to stop the increases. We want to empower you so
you don't feel as helpless as we did when we were
freshmen and tuition went up. Let's build a campus
movement for student power that spans generations
of Emer$on students!

for our

for our
r newsletter

4 ..............Why we think an increase is coming
5 ..............Students Speak Out
6 ..............Tuition Increase Bullshit Meter
8 ..............What is a Student Union?
10..............Questions for the Board

The Emerson College Student Union is a non -hierarchical organization of students committed to changing Emerson College's classist structure through
organizing and community care .
We stand for justice for the Emer$on students the
college system was built to exclude-- including low
income students, students of color, and queer students. We are a platform for all student voices to
speak out. We believe that student power is key to
liberation for us all.
For more information, visit our website at:
To join the Union, email us at:

@gmail .com .


owe know?

Before anyone accuses us of "fear-mongering," let's
go into the likelihood that another increase is coming.
• Tuition and fees, and the cost of living on campus
have increased every year since 2010. 1
• Emer$on's Board of Trustees have not publicly
promised to stop the increases any time soon.
In fact, when asked about halting increases after
last year's increase, Pre$ident Lee Pelton said: "I
wouldn't wish to commit the college to a promise
they cannot keep." 2
• The cost of attendance has increased 53.94%
over the last 10 years. 1 (Can you believe that when
this year's graduating class was freshmen, tuition
and fees were $40,044? Now, it's $46,852!) 1
Cost of Attendance Over the Decade:
■ LivingOn Campus

Trendline for Living On Campus


$64 ,220
$61 ,459






$51 ,156









































Graph made by us, using data from col/egetuitioncompare.com. COA =
room and board + tuition and fees + average books and supplies cost.


Check out our lnstagram for more stories.
"the tuition is 3x my family's annual income, and my institutional aid was not increased to match despite my family losing half
its income and our house. the only reason i was able to remain
at emerson was a family friend co-signing a private loan, an
immense act of charity many students won't get. every time i
asked financial aid for help, they told me they felt bad but their
hands are tied. i have no idea if i'II graduate or not."
- Anonymous student, class of 2022
"I have to drop out lol."
- Anonymous student, would have been class of 2021
"I feel more and more at home everyday at Emerson yet I
have daily thoughts of dropping out to prevent any more
increase in debt. I have panic attacks every once in a while
whenever I think of how much I owe and what plan I need to
form to pay it off."
- Anonymous student, class of 2022
"My parents will have to choose between my father and sister 's medical bills and me getting an education. The debt is
- Anonymous student , class of 2023
"The increasing tuition and lack of financial aid/consistent financial aid between years has put my whole family at risk of losing
our house. Due to the careless mistakes and lack of communication from finaid and the constant tuition increases, I spend my
time at Emerson in constant fear of what comes next. Decreasing tuition would mean the whole world to me. I wouldn 't have
the giant boulder on my chest that is my situation anymore."
- Anonymous student, Class of 2021

Bullshit Meter
Every tuition increase is accompanied by a tide of bullshit
from the administration. We've ranked reasons they've cited
for tuition increases in the past by how bullshitty they are!

''We increased the budget for
financial aid!''
The money for more scholarships and financial aid
is already in the budget - it just needs to be reallocated. (Take, for example, Lee Pelton's $929,000 3
salary, a 120% percent increase 4 from what he made
when he first started working here in 2011. Somehow
they found they money to cover that). Furthermore,
the increase in financial aid they offer to individual
students frequently does not go up in proportion
to the tuition increase. Increasing tuition in order to
increase financial aid creates a bigger problem, not
a solution.
''The increases haven't deterred
enrollment at all, so they can't
be that bad!''


Enrollment has gone up but this statement doesn't
account for the number of students who have to
leave Emerson due to tuition increases. 1 in 5 students don't graduate from Emer$on. 5 Wildly expensive tuition shuts out low-income students.
It ensures that even as our enrollment goes up,
the enrolling student body just gets comprised of
wealthier students (and poor students willing to go
into crushing debt).

''We've added x new study
abroad program for students!''

Okay, so they definitely added the new study
abroad program-- and it definitely was expensive.
The bullshit lies in the fact that we, the students,
weren't asked if we wanted to the program, or if
we thought it was worth the increase. What good
is another study abroad program most students
can't afford when so many students go into absurd
debt just to attend classes on the Boston and L.A.
campus? (and skip meals, and take on two jobs, and
drop out ...)
''Our competitors, like Boston College
Brandeis University, and Northeastern
University, charge even higher tuition!
(So count yourself lucky!)''

Let's call this reason a giant dump . Other colleges
extorting even more money from students does not
excuse Emer$on's war on poor students . Yes, tuition
and fees at these colleges are over $50,000, while
Emerson tuition is $46,852. But guess what these
colleges do for financial aid? On average, Brandeis
university meets 94% of student need, and Boston
College and Northeastern University meet 100%. Emerson, on average, meets only 64% of student need.
And yes, colleges increasing tuition is a national
trend, but don't you think it's pretty shitty of Emer$on
to market itself with the motto "Expression necessary
to evolution" but to refuse to, ya know, express and
evolve beyond our classist college system?

''We are students for the expansion of rights for
students. We are students for racial justice in higher
education. We are students for justice for all people
on the gender spectrum. We are students for the
end of exploitation of students. We a re students
for equitable treatment of staff and faculty. We are
students for the end of the injustice of graduate
students' exploited labor. We are students for the
cooperative ownership of education. We are the
Emerson College Student Union."

-excerpt of our evolving and collaborative manifesto.
We are run by and for Emer$on students, indepen dent of Emer$on College. This means we are not an
SGA recognized org, nor do we aim to be, and we
do not receive funding from Emer$on. This independence gives us the freedom to push back on the institution of Emer$on without fear of being defunded or
kicked off campus.
We are a non-hierarchical group, which means we
have no formal leadership positions-- we all work together as equals. We believe that students deserve
an equally weighted vote in every place where decisions are made.
We invite you to join and organize with us. Our work
is incomplete without your perspective.


To join our team of organizers, email us at emersoncollegestudentunion @gmail.com. To see more of our
manifesto, visit ecstudentunion.home.blog.

Created a meal swipes group where students can
share guest meal swipes with students in need.
Published two Disorientation Guides detailing the
need for student power and how to build it.
Built a free textbook library, soon-to-be located in
front of the Iwasaki Library, where students can
drop off unwanted textbooks so students who
need them can take them for free.
Fostered community through hosting movie nights.
Consolidated information about resources available to low-income students on our website.
Been endorsed by the staff union and discussed
how we can be allies to one another.

• Win students equal voting representation on the
Board of Trustees.
• Get the board to make their minutes and voting
records publicly accessible.
• Campaign for a tuition freeze and a halt to excessive campus spending without student input.
• Build up the campus food pantry to be better
stocked and include non-perishables.
• Win access to the Dining Hall for all students to
decrease food insecurity.
• Expand resources and the visibility of resources
for low-income students.


How come student worker's pay has remained
stagnant at minimum wage when tuition and fees
and the cost of living on campus have increased
every year for the past 10 years? 1

Why do you push students to rely on the food pantry
and student success fund to survive when you could
address the root problem-- that tuition costs too
much for many students to get a degree and eat?

How come Lee Pelton makes $929,456 3 a year
while some adjunct professors scrape by on an
average of $28,449 8 a year? (A living annual
wage for just one adult with no children in Boston
is $30,577) 9

Can you look an adjunct professor in the eyes
and tell them that Lee Pelton's work is over 32
times more valuable than theirs?

Why has Lee Pelton's income increased 120% 4
since he first took office? Just a 100k pay cut for
him would cover the Boylston meal plan for 153
off-campus students 10-- and he'd still be sitting
comfortably making over 800k a year and living
rent-free in a Beacon Hill mansion.

Lee Pelton, how come you advocated for Amazon
HQ to come to Boston 11when Amazon is notorious
for placing its employees in exploitative conditions12 and the company is so closely tied to ICE?13

How come you "forget" to inv ite union leaders to
meetings where dec isions will be made that affect
the ir lives?14

• Why do you now require students to live on campus for the ir first 6 semesters 7 but cont inue to
skyrocket the housing costs annually? 1

How come you only hired two new financ ial aid
employees since 2018 ,15 totalling 11employees? 16
That's 346 enrolled undergraduate students per
1 financial aid employee .17 (And that's not even
including the prospective student count.) No wonde r it's hard to get an appo intment and our needs
fall through the cracks!

• Why don't students have a formal voting pos ition
on the Board where we can ask the se questions,
get real answers , and influence change?

Emerson College Tuition Trends. Retrieved from https://www.collegetuitioncom
pare .com/trends/emerson-college/cost-of -attendance/.




Hadfield, A. (2019, March 28). Returning students to see 4 percent tuition hike .
Retrieved from https://berkeleybeacon.com/returning-students-to-see4-percent tuition-h ike/.
Emerson College. (2017). Form 990 for period ending June 2018 . Retrieved from
https://projects.propub lica.org/nonprofits/display _ 990/41286950/06 _ 2019_ prefixes_ 01-06%2 F041286950 _ 201806 _ 990 _2019062816451694.


Emerson College. (20 11).Form 990 for period ending June 2012 . Retrieved from
https://projects.propub lica.org/nonprofits/display _ 990/41286950/2013 _ 07_ E0 %2F04 -1286950 _990 _201206 .

Emerson College Graduation Rate Trends. Retrieved from https://www.collegetuitioncompa re.com/trends/emerson -co llege/gradua t ion -rate/.

Residency Requirement. (2019, November 27). Retrieved from https://www.emer son .edu/policies/res idency-req u irement.




Emerson College Adjunct Professor Salaries. Retrieved from https://www.paysa.
com/sa laries/emerson-co l lege--adju net-professor.



Living Wage calculator. Retrieved from https://livingwage.mit.edu/metros/14460.


Meal Plans. Retrieved from http://www2.emerson.edu/billing/resources/mealp lans.

11 Buskirk,

C. V. (2019, January 22). Pelton supported Boston's effort to attract
Amazon's second headquarters. Retrieved from https://berke leybeacon.com/
pe lton-su p po rted-boston s-effo rt-to -attract-amazon s-secon d-hea d qua rte rs/.
Campbell, A. F. (2019, October 18). The problem with Amazon's speedy
shipping, in one graphic. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/identi ties/2019/10/18/20920717/amazon-shipping

Hao, K. (2019, October 8). Amazon is the invisible backbone of ICE's immigration
crackdown. Retrieved from https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612335/ama
zon-is -the -invisible-backbone-behind-ices
-immigration -crackdown/.


Purifoy, S. (2019, December 14). Union leaders appeal for representation in
Emerson-Marlboro merger ta lks. Retrieved from https://berkeleybeacon.com/
union- leaders-appeal-for-representation-in
-emerson-marlboro-merger-ta lks/.



Financial Aid. (2018, December

12). Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/
2 .emerson.edu/financial-aid/contact.

Financial Aid. (2019 ). Retrieved from https://www

2 .emerson.edu/financial-aid/con-


About Emerson. (2019, November 27). Retrieved from https://www.emerson.edu/


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