Bias, Micro-aggressions, Structural Oppression

We affirm the lives, experiences, and resilience of people and communities who are most marginalized. While we seek liberation for these communities and ourselves, we also know that interpersonal harm in the form of bias, micro-aggressions, and structural oppression continues to occur, even in the places where we should feel most accepted and validated.  

We know and recognize:

  • Hurt caused by behavior targeted at our identities (our race, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, ability, citizenship status, documentation status, religion, etc.) may affect our ability to thrive, as well as our sense of safety and well-being.
  • These behaviors, regardless of intent, are rooted in an assertion of power.
  • In response to these hurts, we may seek support from communities who are most likely to understand. We also know at times, we may want additional support.

The staff of the Social Justice Center are available to offer support and share information about resources and options for reporting at the College, depending on how you would like to proceed. We also recognize that the Social Justice Center exists within the context of Emerson, an institution with various systems that are not neutral in their impact. We understand the complexities and challenges of what it can mean to share experiences of identity-based harm with a staff member you might not know, as well as what it means to trust in us enough to seek our support. We will do our best to honor your trust and will work to offer you radical care and advocacy, no matter where or when the harm occurred.

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For us, radical care and advocacy means we will:

  • Listen to you and we will believe you.

  • Brainstorm options with you (e.g. help you prepare for a conversation, accompany you to a meeting, facilitate a conversation, etc.). We will also honestly share what we know about the limits of those options.

  • Honor what you choose to do, which could include waiting to take action, taking no action, or taking an action that you don’t share with us. 

  • Support you through systems advocacy, if you decide to take action. This could include sharing information about how various systems and structures work.

  • Honor your privacy and not share information about your experience unless you have asked us to do so, or if other very specific conditions exist. If your experience involves power-based interpersonal violence (sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence, or an abusive relationship) and you are looking for confidential support that does not share information with Title IX or the police, you can connect with the Healing & Advocacy Collective

    Because we want to honor your self-determination, we want you to know if you share an experience with us that involves power-based interpersonal violence, we have to share that information with the Title IX Coordinator. In addition, if you share information that suggests a high risk of imminent threat to yourself or others, or a child or vulnerable adult, we will have to share that information with ECPD.

  • Follow your lead about whether you want us to stay in touch with you.

  • Welcome you anytime you want to see us in the future, even if it is just to say hello.

Additional information on options:

If you experience harm, you may want and need more than support and advocacy from the Social Justice Center. You may want to access a more formal mechanism for having your concern addressed. The College has implemented a centralized reporting mechanism for those impacted by bias. Reports can be made with contact information or anonymously at https://www.emerson.edu/bias

We also want you to know there are limits to how the College addresses identity-based harm in the form of bias, microaggressions, and structural oppression, and these administrative processes may not feel satisfactory for a range of reasons. For example:

  • Some faculty have protections in the form of academic freedom, tenure, and contractual agreements that may limit what can be done. 

  • A staff supervisor may have the discretion to decide what will be done and may not be able to share what action, if any, is being taken.  

  • The staff in the Office of Community Standards & Conduct may assess whether your experience with a student would be a violation of the Code of Student Conduct. If it is deemed not be a violation, then there may be no action taken by the office.

While the Social Justice Center does not have the authority or ability to hold people accountable for identity-based harm, we know and understand the impact that it can have. We will support you, advocate for you, and move in solidarity with you.

If you would like to share your experience, you can contact us:

  • Hours: Monday through Friday, from 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Phone: 617-824-8528
  • Email: sjc [at] emerson.edu
  • Location: Walker Building, 120 Boylston Street, 10th floor, Rooms 1003, 1004, 1005