College hosts tours of new building, students look at building before construction

Originally published in The Berkeley Beacon - By Dylan Rossiter, Chris Van Buskirk and Shafaq Patel  

The college may dedicate its newest 172 Tremont St. building to student spaces.

The Office of Student Engagement and Leadership led student tours and discussed how to best utilize the $24 million building, nicknamed the Skinny Building.

“A final decision has not been made yet and [student] involvement will be essential as the college makes determinations about the future use of [172 Tremont St.],” Vice President and Dean for Campus Life James Hoppe wrote in an email announcing the forums.  

Hoppe said recent discussions have been focused on moving the Max Mutchnick Campus Center in Piano Row to 172 Tremont St. and relocating the Fitness Center to the basement of Piano Row.

SEAL hosted the student forums on Jan. 29 and 31 for members of organizations recognized by the Student Government Association to discuss possibilities for the building.

While plans have not been finalized, Director of Student Activities Jason Meier said the building would be ready for use by January 2019.

The new building currently has four floors and overlooks Boston Common. Construction has not started yet as plans are still being drawn. The building was originally intended to be condos, so it still has bathtubs and large kitchen spaces.

OPINION: Navigating the nuances of invisible disabilities

Originally published in The Berkeley Beacon - By Dylan Rossiter

Pen, check. Laptop, check. Confidence? I take a deep breath, pop in some Ed Sheeran, and head for the elevator with the little buttons I pray I’ll be able to navigate without looking like an idiot. Then there’s another elevator with different buttons, before finally making it to the right floor. Now the only problem is, I need to locate the classroom. I put my face up to each room number until I finally find the right one.  

For blind and visually impaired students, getting to class on the first day of a new semester can be a challenge, but that battle is nothing compared to the emotional storm coming once the syllabus comes out. I can handle the awkward introduction where everyone goes around the room and says their name, year, and major. Suddenly though, right when my confidence starts to improve, the debilitating anxiety returns as the professor begins reading the syllabus. Are they going to call on people to read? I hope not.

First impressions are everything on the first day of any class. No one will judge you for failing to have the required texts with you, but if you cause a disruption or stray from the norm, people will notice and it will stick to you worse than the gum under an Ansin chair. Interrupting the course of peers to shamefully say that you can’t read a block of text because it is too small, will stay with everyone in that classroom for the duration of the term. You will be known not as the kid that sits by the window, but as the blind kid that sits by the window. The thought of once again being doubted, othered, and isolated because of something you were born with can be troubling.

Personally, I approach the awkward encounter with the mentality of “screw it, I’m blind,” but not everyone in these shoes has that level of self-confidence, and even I find my body gripped with trepidation as the moment of faith approaches. The seconds immediately prior to and following the admission seem to last for decades with tidal waves of sweat washing over my body.    

Unlike most quandaries at Emerson, administrators cannot fix this by stepping up and fulfilling their job descriptions, or making a new office to cater student needs. The office of Student Accessibility Services does a phenomenal job of working with students who require accommodations in a private, discreet manner.   

At the end of the day, this is an issue affecting a portion of the community with invisible “disabilities” that can’t fit under Harry Potter’s cloak for very long. So please, when you find yourself in this position during a class—and you will at some point—don’t see it as a disruption, just try to understand and be grateful that you had no trouble pushing the elevator button to get here.

Senior’s horror anthology picked up by pub club

Originally published in The Berkeley Beacon - By Dylan Rossiter 

Allison Rassmann recently invited her parents to an upcoming magazine launch party, but the senior writing, literature and publishing major is hiding a secret from her family. The Tuesday “launch” at the Bill Bordy Theater is actually for her first published book, Under Floorboards, Under Skin.

“They think they’re going to come into the city, get dinner, pick up a magazine [with my work in it] and leave,” Rassmann said. “What they don’t know is that I’m hoping I have the honor of sitting them down in the front row and letting them watch my first Q&A and book signing.”

Rassmann, a Chelmsford, Massachusetts native, called her book a collection of short, non-traditional horror stories.

“It’s less about the jumpy scary type of horror and more about the secrets that people are afraid to say and what happens when those things go unsaid,” Rassmann said.

Rassmann said the anthology focuses on mental illness, the dangers of the unknown, the horrors of this world, and the plain horror of letting things go unsaid.

Along with Beacon Deputy Arts Editor Kyle Labe’s Butterflies Behind Glass & Other Stories, Rassmann’s book is being published this semester by Emerson College’s Undergraduate Students for Publishing. Students submit manuscripts which are then reviewed by the club’s advisory board and narrowed down to four finalists each semester. The “Pub Club” as a whole then votes on which two get published.

“At around 9:30 at night, I got a text with a smiley face from a friend I knew on the committee,” Rassmann said. “I think I was on Boylston Street, and I’m pretty sure I screamed, but that happens a lot out there. For the next week, I told everyone. I think the only two people that I haven’t told yet are my parents.”

Rassmann said she never intended to submit a horror anthology to Pub Club. Her original plan was to submit her BFA project—a literary novela—but after looking through her collection of stories and realizing she had four relatable stories that could fit together in an anthology, she cranked out two more 48 hours before the deadline.

“There was one story, [“Qualitative Findings on Experiment 436-B”], that I had the idea for the longest time, but it was really hard to write because it was a collection of found journal entries that I had a really hard time working with,” Rassmann said. “The other, [“Under Skin”], was basically, ‘What can I write that’s five pages and makes for a really good story?’”

Pub Club president Madison Heim-Jinivisian said Rassmann’s book is a nice change since the club rarely publishes horror or anthologies.

“What’s awesome about Allison’s work is that there are a lot of supernatural elements and otherworldly effects, but it’s all grounded in the human experience and having to do with trauma and memory and how those things seem creepy or natural to us in some ways at one point or another in our lives,” Heim-Jinivisian said. “It’s relatable, even though it’s horror.”

Sophomore’s band to open for Frankie Cosmos

Originally published in The Berkeley Beacon - By Dylan Rossiter

Claire Foley didn’t know how to play guitar, had never written music, or performed with a band. But a little over a year after starting out at open mic nights the sophomore and their band, Ultra Chapelle, is set to open for singer-songwriter Frankie Cosmos on Friday at the Cabaret.

“It’s really, really surreal,” Foley said. “Frankie Cosmos is one of my favorite musicians. I was freaking out about it for so long that now I’m just warmly numb. I know it’s gonna hit me again, and I’m going to be freaking out as it gets closer.”

The event, sponsored by WECB, has been a long time coming for station general manager Sam Baler. The senior said he’s always wanted a big WECB concert and hopes Friday’s show is the start of an annual tradition.

“I really love Claire’s songwriting,” Baler said. “They have a lot of charisma, are a great singer, and are fun to watch perform. I also knew how big of a fan they were [of Frankie Cosmos], so it seemed like a perfect fit.”

Foley said Ultra Chapelle began as a solo project, which they started back home in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire. Foley said they got their start performing at open mic nights, and later in venues around the southern New Hampshire area.

Today, Ultra Chapelle is a three-piece indie alternative/pop band with Foley on guitar and vocals, sophomore Nick Arcari on bass guitar, and junior Lorenzo Rosi on drums.

“They are both so insanely talented, and I’m lucky that they want to work with me at all,” Foley said.

The trio formed when Foley was playing at a house show at Lorenzo’s house this spring.

“When I came to Emerson, I hoped that I would be able to continue playing music,” Foley said. “I would just play for my friends when we were doing homework or something, and eventually, some of them put on house shows, and it snowballed from there.”

Foley said Cosmos was an inspiration and influence on their music.

“I was so excited when I heard that he booked Frankie Cosmos, and then when he asked me if I wanted to open,” Foley said. “I just started tonelessly yelling because I was so ecstatic and could not comprehend that this all had been placed in my lap.”

Cosmos, whose legal name is Greta Kline, said she is looking forward to sharing the event with Foley.

“I listened to some songs on the Ultra Chapelle Bandcamp, and they were beautiful,” Kline said. “It’s so fun to play a show where you are stoked to watch the other people playing.”

Doors for Friday’s free Emerson-only event open at 7:30 p.m. The Cabaret is located on the second floor of 52 Summer St., the same location as the Fitness Center.

College speeds up shuttle service following delays

Originally published in The Berkeley Beacon - By Dylan Rossiter

A delay that stranded one Hemenway resident for nearly two hours will bring improvements to the school’s late-night shuttle service, according to Hemenway Residence Director Matthew Carney.

In a firestorm of tweets sent the morning of Sunday, Oct. 8, senior Johnnie Luna said he waited two hours for a ride home from the Hemenway shuttle, a service that provides safe transportation between the Emerson Campus Police Department and the Fenway dorm from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.

“I started waiting around midnight and didn’t get on until 2 a.m.,” Luna said.

After sitting on the stationary shuttle for twenty minutes, the visual and media arts student said he decided to walk the approximately one-mile-walk back to his dorm alone. He said he did not feel unsafe walking back alone—citing his size, age, and gender.

“Two other kids got off before I got off. In the time that we were just sitting there, it could have gone, dropped us off and come back,” he said. “Why advertise the shuttle if it’s going to be this shitty, honestly?”

On Monday, Carney met with ECPD and Securitas Security Services USA to discuss ways of limiting delays. Moving forward, he said the shuttle would spend a maximum of five minutes at each stop before turning around and continuing its loop.

“We have given a strict time frame: pull up, wait five minutes, if the bus is full, if the bus has one person on it, if the bus has no one, it’s leaving and going to the next stop,” Carney said.

Carney said the shuttle driver, a Securitas Security Services USA employee, also serves as a relief guard for other employees on campus who require breaks during their shifts. While Carney is unsure if a guard’s break caused the lengthy Oct. 7-8 delay, he said moving forward the driver can only relieve other guards during the five minute period at each stop.

“Waiting an hour and a half to two hours [for the shuttle] is totally unacceptable,” Carney said, who learned of Luna’s complaints in an email chain he was included on.

Luna is skeptical if the new policy will fix the service.

“I think if that is implemented correctly that would fix the situation, but I was under the impression that that was already the policy so I guess we have to wait and see,” Luna said.

ECPD Chief of Police Robert Smith, whose department oversees Securitas Security Services USA, said Wednesday that only one other issue with the shuttle has ever been reported. He could not comment on the nature of the complaint but said it was a separate incident and not connected to Luna’s experience.

Smith also said the department welcomes feedback and wants to make the shuttle service the best it can be.

“This is something we are going to have for the next two years, so we want to make it as seamless and safe as possible,” Smith said.

Students who experience issues with the shuttle service are encouraged to file a report with ECPD in person, over the phone, or via email.

Carney cites traffic as a possible cause for future delays, especially on weekends and during inclement weather. He also advises students who choose to walk home to do so in groups.

Editor-in-Chief Nathanael King did not edit this article.

Candidates to run unopposed in SGA special election

Originally published in The Berkeley Beacon - By Dylan Rossiter

The Student Government Association set a special election for Oct. 11 to fill six empty seats within the organization.

“We had a great number of vacant positions due to some positions not being filled in the spring elections, as well as a couple resignations over the summer,” Chief Justice Ally MacLean said. “We felt that it warranted the calling of a special election to fill those vacant positions that we believe are pretty important.”

With the special election, SGA is looking to fill the offices of Class of 2018 President; Class of 2019 Treasurer; Class of 2019 Senator; Class of 2020 Vice President; Marketing and Communications Senator; and Writing, Literature and Publishing Senator.

Students looking to get their names on ballots were required to submit a signed statement of intent to run for office, along with a petition of at least 50 signatures by Sept. 22. Candidates who failed to file in time can still get elected through a write-in campaign. However, write-in candidates who win will still have to turn in a signed statement and petition.

All officials must have at least a 2.7 GPA to participate in SGA, the benchmark for all campus organizations.

The election will take place online at vote.emerson.edu, with polls opening at midnight on Oct. 11 and closing 24 hours later, on Oct. 12.

As of Wednesday evening, just two candidates secured their names on the ballot—Gregory Massimino-Garcia for Class of 2018 President and Matthew Enriquez Manrique for Class of 2020 Vice President.

Student government positions within the Class of 2021 will be filled in the winter elections.

Students looking to fill roles within the freshmen class or otherwise get involved with SGA are encouraged to attend the SGA weekly joint session meetings to get a better feel for the organization. Meetings are held Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room inside the Max Mutchnick Campus Center and are open to the Emerson community.

“I love SGA. I think it’s a really great family, as any student organization is on campus. It’s not like high school student government, where you can plan the prom, and that’s pretty much it,” MacLean said. “We do have the ability to make like actual change to this campus, and that’s something that I really love.”

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