Charles Wesley Emerson founded Emerson College, renowned for its arts and communication programs, in 1880. Located in the Theater District, adjacent to the Common and mere minutes from Downtown Crossing, Faneuil Hall, and plenty of other great areas, Emerson is smack-dab in the heart of downtown Boston.
Among the many perks of life as a Lion, students said they especially appreciate the cafeteria’s new milkshake machine and the fitness center’s free personal training sessions, the latter of which are important because so many students are pursuing degrees in fields with an emphasis on vanity -- theater, broadcast journalism, political science -- said Emerson sophomore and fitness center employee Gigi Watson (and possibly because of the number of milkshakes they’re all drinking).
“It’s probably not that cool, but we think it’s awesome,” Watson also said of the milkshake machine.
But it’s more than just Emerson’s milkshakes that bring all the boys (and girls) to the yard. Here are five more neat things about Emerson life.
Bludgers, Quaffles, and Snitches, oh my! In 2007, Emerson’s Quidditch team began with 14 freshmen “who thought it would be a fun idea to try,” according to their website. The team has since expanded to an organization with more than 200 members and five teams. Much like Hogwarts houses, each team has its own personality, Watson said; all-stars from each team form the school’s Quidditch World Cup team.
“Tryouts are very intense,” Watson said. “Some people get upset.”
Although not many Emerson students support the school’s sports teams, Watson said she enjoys watching Quidditch games, usually held later on Sunday afternoons. “You wake up late, get breakfast, go to Quidditch,” she said. “It’s our own little tradition.”
Emerson understands the saying “location, location, location.” Emerson’s Boston campus is in a pretty sweet spot, but that clearly wasn’t enough: The university's study abroad locations include a Los Angeles campus and a castle in Kasteel Well, the Netherlands. Yeah, you heard me right: a castle in the Netherlands.
“It was amazing,” said Braden Joyce-Schleimer, an Emerson senior, who took part in the castle program during his sophomore year. “I was really lucky. I got to live in the tower of the castle in this cool circular room overlooking the castle moat.”
Watson hasn’t had the opportunity to go to the Netherlands, but she said she’s very satisfied with Emerson’s Boston campus.
“I just don’t think there’s any better location in the city to be,” she said. “My room overlooks the Common and the Garden.”
Emerson’s theater survived the Great Depression. Emerson owns more performance space than any other Boston institution; their properties include the 100-year-old Cutler Majestic Theatre, the Paramount Center, and the Colonial Theatre. Emerson’s Musical Theatre Society is also the school’s largest theatrical student group.
“Literally anything you can think of that goes into a musical is completely done by students,” including directing, acting in, designing and producing the shows, said Joyce-Schleimer, who has performed in both the Majestic and the Paramount.
Another of the school’s programs, ArtsEmerson, brings world-famous performances to Boston. Through the organization, Watson said she got to see The Laramie Project performed by the original writers, as well as the world premier of the sequel, for just $10.
“To see the people who wrote it perform it was incredible,” she said.
Emerson’s award show wins awards. Emerson students certainly have a wealth of talent, and they needed some way to showcase it -- hence, the EVVY Awards.
“It’s basically an awards show that basically just honors student work,” Joyce-Schleimer said.
But the EVVYs don’t just highlight students’ various talents; they also require broadcast journalists to televise the event. Joyce-Schleimer said the awards ceremony is the nation’s largest live, multi-camera television program produced by students.
“It’s such a good microcosm of what makes Emerson so special and great because it really allows any student in any major to hone their crafts and apply what they're doing,” Watson said. “It’s just incredible to me how kids work together to create fantastic things here [and] use each other’s talents to the fullest to do impossible things sometimes.”
Emersonians embrace all walks of life. The Princeton Review ranked Emerson the no. 1 LGBT-friendly campus in the nation.
“That’s a nice claim to fame,” Joyce-Schleimer said, adding that the ranking came soon after a huge rally that Emerson students held in the Common in support of the Love is Louder campaign, a project that aims to bring an end to depression, bullying, and discrimination.
“There are a lot of different kinds of people that are attracted to Emerson for different reasons,” Watson said. “Everyone is really willing to learn from other types of people.”
Before arriving at Emerson, Watson said she was worried all of the students would be alike, since the school is so heavily into arts and film, but she found the student body to be full of interesting and unique people.
“I have lots of friends from different countries and walks of life,” she said.
Emerson students, what do you love about being a Lion?
Interested in more 'School Secrets'? Find out what's weird and wacky about life at Northeastern, BU, BC, Harvard, and MIT, and check back for fun facts about the rest of Boston's institutions of higher education.
Photo of the Cutler Majestic Theatre (bottom) by Bryan Loar (Flickr)
About Melissa -- I'm a journalism student at Northeastern University, originally from New Jersey. I love hiking, kayaking, and cereal, and I am a vegetarian. I'm afraid of nothing, except butterflies. I love Disney movies, and I hope to one day meet Betty White.
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