Greetings from the Director
Dear Parents and Families,
I’m delighted to welcome you back to another year at Emerson. September has always felt to me to be a “New Year” so much more so than January. It evokes for those of us in academia the wonderful promise of hope, dreams, aspirations, and above all — renewal! While we have just launched our newest graduates a few months ago, we welcome with open arms the students and families that have arrived to enrich our community.
I hope you have joined our official Parent and Family Programs Facebook page. This is an important resource for asking questions, sharing experiences, and giving support to each other. While several administrators visit this page, the real connections happen family-to-family, parent-to-parent, and ultimately, friend-to-friend. Please visit us here: Emerson Facebook Page.
Family Weekend is just around the corner and we hope you might be able to join us as the air becomes crisper and the leaves change color. For the students, Family Weekend happens at the mid-point in the term. For some new students, it marks the longest period of time that they’ve been away from family. For others, it’s a chance to showcase some of the things they’ve accomplished so far in the semester, and to share their vision of what is to come. You may find out more about Family Weekend’s schedule and how to register: 2017 Family Weekend.
I am available when you have questions or concerns and don’t know where to start. Please feel free to e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best wishes for an amazing experience for your family this year!
When Emergencies Happen
Getting an emergency alert from Emerson gets everyone’s heart racing immediately. Here’s what happens, the Emerson College Police Department (ECPD) is able to send out alerts whenever they discover or are notified of an incident happening on or near our campus. Earlier this week we had a true emergency when shots were fired on the Boston Common near campus. Participants in our community were notified in the format they chose through our Emergency Notification System (ENS) called Rave. When activated, this program simultaneously sends voicemail messages to individuals by telephone (both landline and cellular), text (SMS), and email. The Rave system has the capability to send emergency notifications to Emerson campuses in Boston, Los Angeles, and the Netherlands and to other international phone numbers.
In addition to entering their own information, students are encouraged to add any phone numbers or emails they would like into the ENS system, especially parents and family members who would like to receive these updates. The College strongly encourages all students to provide up-to-date contact information in Rave at http://www.emerson.edu/emersonalert. This is the BEST way for them and you to get important updates. You may also receive emergency updates by downloading the Emerson app. This will give you the “big picture” updates, but not the detail provided by Rave. The difference is that anyone may download the app, but only students may add your information into the ENS system. (You may notice that on the app it asks you to add your Emerson credentials to get to protected parts of our network. Parents do not receive these credentials, only the students do to maintain their educational records and privacy.)
If your student entered your information, you will get the notifications. Please remember that all emergencies (including snow days) will go out on the ENS. That does mean that if your student entered your land line, mobile phone, and e-mail, and you have downloaded the app, you will get 4 notifications that your student gets to sleep-in on a snowy day! You may want to have a discussion with your student about how you would like to receive these notifications. Some families want everything, some want no notifications. Either choice is fine. You might also hear of incidents that happen in Boston and wonder why you don’t receive an alert. That is a possibility if the incident happened off campus and there is no ongoing danger to our community.
When there is an emergency notification, your first instinct will likely be to communicate with your student immediately. As hard as it might be, restraint might be a better choice. In active lock-down situations, students are instructed to turn off phones completely to avoid detection. As horrible as the thought might be, your phone call might put your student in danger. Your second instinct may be to call ECPD. It is also worth noting that calls to the Police during an active emergency may take officers away from the urgent situation. Many families make an agreement with students that the student is obliged to get in touch with family as soon as an alert is sounded to let them know they are safe. Participants on the Parent and Family Facebook page shared many instances of students doing just that! These alerts are not common and they are always upsetting. Please know that there are many caring staff, faculty and para-professional who are here and have the well-being of your student uppermost in their minds. A network of support is always available, but is emphasized even more if there is an incident.
Sadly, our students are more used to reacting to lock-downs or shelter-in-place alerts than our generation, as they’ve been doing drills since they entered school as little children. We were very proud of the reaction of our students who followed instructions beautifully and comforted each other during a scary time. We were also proud of the reaction of our parent and family population who kept their cool, shared information appropriately, and helped support each other. Please know that, whenever possible, during an emergency an administrator of the Parent and Family Facebook page will be providing you with information in real time, instant updates. We urge you to join the parent page (link above) if you would like to participate. We also ask that you do not start new threads when there is an emergency, as it makes it more difficult to monitor discussions. An administrator will start an “official” thread that should be utilized.
We know that any violence near your student is likely to cause you distress. We do hope that you are comforted by the excellent notification system and the knowledge of the depth of the support system available.
Whether your student moved-in for the first time in August, you moved a senior into an off-campus apartment, your student wore a pink shirt as an Orientation Leader, or you just want to smile, take 2 minutes to watch the Move-In video. It was produced by Parent and Family Programs to show the experience from the family point-of-view. Enjoy!