Board of Trustees Student Rep. Remarks - February 2019

Below are the remarks that the 2018-2019 Student Representative to the Board of Trustees gave to the Board on February 28, 2019. Please email if you have any questions or would like to talk about anything included in these remarks!

Board of Trustees Remarks

Hello all! Thank you so much for having me today. I’m so excited to be here to speak to you all once again, and I’m not saying our last meeting wasn’t great and all, but I’m personally a huge fan of this location change. Anything that’s even slightly warmer than Boston is good for me.

As a refresher, my name is Jess Guida. I’m currently a senior in my last semester, with a major in Media Studies and a minor in Leadership & Management. I’m still happily working a couple of jobs on-campus with the Emerson College Police Department and the Office of Student Affairs & Campus Life, while I also decide between a couple of graduate schools to attend next year. But, of course I feel most proud to be holding the role of Executive President of the Student Government Association.

Back in October, I gave you a brief overview of some of the incredible work students were producing to kick off the academic year. However, that was four months ago. Which because we’re Emersonians, means that there are countless events, fundraisers, campaigns, and initiatives that I could catch you up on. Students are constantly engaging in impactful projects that have important reach within and beyond our community.

Like EBONI who hosted speakers and put on multiple events throughout February to celebrate Black History month. Or Alpha Epsilon Phi who held the 15th annual Ribbons on the Runway event to raise money for Sharsheret. In addition, the men’s basketball team succeeded in winning the NEWMAC championship game and last semester, we saw students from every class participate in the Voice Your Choice program. They ultimately voted and advocated to have $100,000 donated towards Student Access at Emerson.  

These are just a few examples of the outstanding work Emerson students are up to. And even with the busy schedules that a lot of Emerson students are balancing, they still dedicate themselves to positively impacting our community.  

And this year, we in SGA have truly seen the impact and influence that comes from Emersonians investing in this college and their own education. Our number of representatives has grown--from 21 members serving in SGA at this time last year, to now 36--they spend upwards of at least 4-5 hours per week bringing representation to different populations of students and their interests.

In November, we also partnered with Michaele Whelan in Academic Affairs to launch the Faculty and Student Town Hall that provided a space for more conversation and communication between the student body and the faculty. This resulted in each academic department and our SGA senators leaving with action items that they could work on and address moving forward, such as creating more opportunities for student leadership within departments and looking into cross-listing certain courses.

To reflect how important student access is to our community, our student government unanimously voted in December to revive the SGA Scholarship which will give supplemental aid to students in need as they enter into their Senior year. From an accumulation of unspent student organization funds from our last fiscal year, we donated $20,000 towards this scholarship. We also gave an additional $5,000 towards the Lions for Lions Fund, a scholarship created by the Class of 2016, in the hopes that it eventually reaches a financial level that it can be awarded to a student who needs iIn addition to these projects, we’ve held numerous meetings with various Vice Presidents and administrators working through SGA’s Financial Accountability Initiative. Through these partnerships, we’ve seen real progress and tangible results--including additional course costs, outside of tuition, now being listed in the academic Course Catalog and support for students living on-campus at the Emerson Los Angeles program.

So...I guess you could say it’s been a busy four months. And, sure, the work is never done. There is always more that we can be doing, but advancing in the right direction gives me hope. And we should never underestimate how valuable hope is. Because I have seen so many students investing their time and energy to make Emerson a better place. I feel lucky to be the student voice in this room today; getting to tell you about these incredible things students have accomplished truly feels like the best job.

I recently sat down with a group of students who were all involved in some type of student advocacy or activism on campus. Sitting around that table, I listed to the ideas and projects that everyone wanted to tackle. The work that they wanted to accomplish, not for themselves, but for the whole community. And as I sat there, I realized that this was what I wanted you to hear. That there are students who want a seat at the table. They want to impact decisions and have input on conversations about the college. Primarily, they want access--to have agency over their educational experience.

In SGA, we noticed this want from our constituents, and this year we shifted to live streaming our meetings through our Facebook page. So, even if they can’t physically be in the room, students still have the ability to be a part of the conversation. And more than that, staff, faculty, and even all of you could tune in to a meeting (live on Tuesdays, 2-3:45pm), or anytime, and hear our conversations about the concerns and ideas coming from our student representatives.

The importance of this access extends beyond our SGA. Students are positively impacting this community with their work everyday. When I stood before you all in October, I proposed the idea of having student representatives be more involved with some of the committees within the Board of Trustees. As you continue to consider that proposal, I’m hopeful of the opportunities that may come from this. There are students interested in being a part of this partnership. I know the significant impact that can come from building these connections, and I think there is the opportunity to see that reflected in your sub committees--just as we have seen before, in search committees and boards throughout Emerson.

So I hope that you will continue to see the value and the future possibilities that come from partnering with students. To allow Emersonians to demonstrate a commitment to having ownership over their experience. To do what they do best: whether it’s challenging the status quo, pushing boundaries, or creating change.

Eventually, every student is going to reach the point that I am currently approaching: in three months, I will no longer be a student at Emerson College. I will be an alum. And I know that I will be a proud one at that because I’ve had the opportunity to leave my mark here. I want everyone to have that feeling. That they had a seat at the table. That they had agency. They were seen and heard, and when it came down to it, they felt like they were truly a part of making this community the best that it can be.

So, I want to thank you once again for allowing my voice to be heard here today. I look forward to continuing our partnership and working together to build new ones that will, hopefully, continue to move us forward. It’s always a pleasure to have this opportunity, and would love to continue conversations with you all. If you have any questions, I would be happy to address them here (or via email at

Thank you.