On April 10 2018, POWER published a memoir written by Cindy Tsai, who was at the time a Freshman in Emerson’s Musical Theatre department. In this post, Cindy bravely and eloquently relayed her experiences with bias and microagressions in her first semester of college.
Following this POWER created a petition calling for the removal of Musical Theatre department head Scott Lafeber from his position. We made this request recognizing that Cindy’s particular interactions with Professor Lafeber were not insular, but instead symptomatic of a much larger institutional issue that could not in fact be solved by his removal–it would, though, be a start.
In the year since, a lot has changed for POWER, Cindy, and the Emerson community. Cindy has found a new creative and academic home at Pace University in New York. POWER has continued to work with faculty, students and administration to create important systemic and cultural change on Emerson’s campus. Last Thursday, it was announced by Performing Arts department Chair Bob Colby that effective Fall 2019, Lafeber would be replaced by Performing Arts faculty member Amelia Broome as head of Emerson’s MT department, but retain his position as a member of the Musical Theatre faculty.
We recognize and respect the fact that change is difficult, and that there will inevitably be dissent and disagreement in the wake of any administrative decision, but the treatment that Cindy has been subjected to by students who she formerly called her peers in the wake of this announcement is simply unacceptable.
To the students in Emerson Performing Arts department engaging in this shameful, distasteful, and frankly, abusive behavior, all you have done is serve to prove Cindy’s point about the culture of the department. You should be embarrassed.
To Cindy, POWER continues to stand behind you. You are seen and supported. Never stop using your voice.
To the rest of the Emerson community at large, learn from this. We can no longer stand by and allow students of color on our campus to be marginalized for choosing to vocalize their experiences. We can no longer ignore this. Do better. Be better.
Written by Cindy Tsai
1 | LAST YEAR
After my memoir came out last year, I received an outpour of support from all over the country. I received messages of love, support, and above all, similar personal experiences from other students of color in collegiate BFA programs. Thank you for showing me that I am not alone.
It should come to no surprise that with a topic this polarizing, I would receive backlash as well. And I did. Some came from alumni who attended the program I wrote about. Some came from a conservative website with some nasty comments attached. But the bulk of the backlash and bullying I received was from within the program I had written about – from my peers. I will never forget the feeling of knowing that there were over 3,000 people in the country supporting me through my experience, but feeling unsafe in a…
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