I think this may be the first time I’ve written something that is from me to you all—all students, not just the incoming class—rather than writing something on behalf of other students.
The week after the election, one of the members of SGA told me she had friends that were surprised I hadn’t said anything in the wake of November 9, not as an individual, but as the president of the Student Government Association.
Truthfully, I didn’t know where to begin.
As the month wore on and we moved into December, and more things cropped up, it seemed more and more appropriate to wait until the end of the semester to reflect.
And so here we are.
A semester at Emerson is always a whirlwind, and it’s nearly always stressful, but Fall 2016 in particular seemed to have us by the throat at every turn. From the election, to American Vanguard posters, to everything else—it was relentless.
My hope is that you’re all taking this break as time to heal as much as you can, as best as you can. My hope is that you are spending it with people who love and support you, whether they be family by blood or family by choice.
I hope you take the time to regather your strength, because 2017 is not going to be easy, either.
There’s a particular urgency I feel as I look toward my last semester here, knowing that we’re entering a time shrouded in doubt and uncertainty. My time left in this position is drawing to a close, and yet it feels as though there is still so much work to be done.
There’s urgency because I know that Emersonians, if they choose to, can be more than just spectators or bystanders. It has always been my belief that Emersonians—as the next generation of communicators, media makers, and storytellers—are capable of shifting the culture in which we live.
So long as I believe that the best storytellers are truthtellers, I refuse to accept a “post-truth” society.
It’s for this reason that my belief in education has not shaken—if anything, it’s only grown. Emerson is uniquely situated in that, at its best, it not only strives to supply us knowledge, but also to encourage us to raise questions, to challenge, to find and tell the truth.
Emerson is not a perfect place. Far be it from me to cast any illusions about that. We are at times so caught up in believing we are progressive that we dismiss the idea that anyone could be capable of bigotry or ignorance.
There are some here that would still say that it’s important to listen to the other side, to make sure that we are not teaching a one-sided story.
My response to that is simple: it is one thing to rationalize how this happened. It’s another thing to claim that those reasons are valid. It’s one thing to hear out beliefs that differ from yours; it’s another to let bigotry roam free under the guise of “tolerance.”
So I caution us all against this kind of dialogue. Do not enable bigotry in the name of open conversation. It’s a waste of time, and not one we can afford.
And above all, I want to urge you: do not let it be said that you kept your head down and did nothing. I believe in the voices of Emersonians. I believe in our power to make change. Use it. Harness that. Put your passion and your drive to use.
It is easy to accept defeat and to let that paralyze you. It is easy to proceed with business as usual.
But do not rest. Do not settle—instead, overcome.
May your break be peaceful; I’ll see you in 2017.
Executive President of the Student Government Association