The best way to describe Emerson College (briefly) naming one of its schools after Ron Burgundy.
Emerson College is gaining a random PR boost from fake anchorman Ron Burgundy through a fake school naming. Burgundy, portrayed by Will Farrell in the film series Anchorman, will be honored by the school by renaming the School of Communications after him for 24 hours on December 4. The renaming will come with a screening of Anchorman 2 and a visit by Farrell in-character as Burgundy, which according to Emerson President Lee Pelton, will give students "a chance to engage with someone who understands the power of media...firsthand." That last statement sounds disturbing and ludicrous outside the context of that school. Still, as an alumnus of Emerson College, I wish I can say I am surprised at this development, but I am not. In fact, I could argue that the Ron Burgundy fake anchorman is the perfect mascot for Emerson College: Plastic, arrogant, and when you get past the first two, really idiotic.
Ever since previous school president Jackie Liebergott (whose last name in German translates loosely to the phrase "oh dear God") took over, Emerson College underwent severe changes that would be comparable to a CEO taking over a public institution. The entire Emerson campus got into the real estate business and moved from a rather quiet part of Boston to prime real estate, covering one corner of the Boston Common. In addition, Liebergott and her staff pushed ridiculously hard to utilize Emerson's connections in Hollywood to build a presence there, which some have referred to as the "Emerson Mafia." One legacy of this is Emerson's new gleaming Sunset Boulevard campus, a castle in the Netherlands (because, you know, reasons), and several of Boston's old theaters being restored.
But people are what make colleges, and the attitude Emerson has displayed in towards its students and alumni is nothing short of arrogant and incompetent. Despite being a School of the Arts, and housing the prestigious literary publication Ploughshares, the only arts programs that gain any respect and money from Emerson is Film Acting and Theatre. WERS, the college radio station that was once the pride of Emerson for its nigh-professionalism, is seeking a professional DJ for no other reason than to boost ratings, since management seems incapable of properly recruiting and training student DJs anymore.
While all colleges have strong and weak departments, Emerson's favoritism is something that only Ron Burgundy could appreciate. If a student is not in Marketing Communications, Film and Television (emphasis on television), Broadcast Journalism (since it is related to television), or Theater, they should expect their major to be underfunded, weakly staffed, and — if there is any technical aspect to it — under-equipped. The three aforementioned majors also favored greatly in terms of student organizations, which are Emerson's version to a Greek system, as well as the professional connections (Mafia or otherwise) out of school when they seek a job. One can only feel pity for a Writing or Political Communications major, or even a Print Journalism major (though, to their credit, they had access to Boston Globe internships), for they are doomed both in and out of school. Emerson has done an incredible job at producing Ron Burgundys by turning into a school that is career track for all the glamorous aspects of media, primarily television and theater (though not film). The rest turn into poor Brooklyn hipsters for some reason.
All of this occurs at a school that costs more than $35,000 per year in tuition, and possesses a financial aid system that is among the worst in the nation (being beaten out only by the ultimate snob school, New York University, among other places). This Emerson alumnus is currently about $60,000 in debt, and is having a really hard time making a dent out of that, even with the income I have at the moment. The almost-completely-white school's promotion of diversity is partially a sham, given that the only form of diversity is its large LGBT population, and the only foreign language you can major in is American Sign Language.
This is not to say that I had a bad experience at Emerson College. I had a pretty good experience, and am still close with many friends from that time of my life. But I have doubts that it would have been any different at cheaper, less arrogant colleges. If nothing else, the Ron Burgundy School of Communications should be made permanent, for it is a testament to Emerson College's true colors: A plastic school that prides itself on latching onto the glitz and glamor of corporate media, all the while having some other majors that make it resemble a college. It could not keep it classy if it were taught manners.