The Student Government Association (SGA) discussed resources for mental health on campus, diversity in faculty and student representation, and upcoming events and initiatives at their weekly meeting on Tuesday.
Chief Diversity Officer and Vice Provost of Diversity and Inclusion Fenimore Fisher, who joined Hopkins in October, spoke before the meeting officially commenced to talk about the University’s new approach to fostering diversity and representation in the Hopkins community.
“I wanted to make sure that as part of my unofficial onboarding… that I spend time actually meeting with the SGA,” Fisher said.
Fisher serves as the primary steward for the University’s Roadmap on Diversity and Inclusion, published last October. He asked SGA members to offer him comments on the Roadmap.
SGA members discussed several issues related to diversity. Sophomore Class President Anthony Boutros voiced concerns about distinguishing Middle Easterners from whites, which he says has led to a dismissal of representation for the group in the past.
Freshman Class Senator Lauren Paulet talked about inclusion for the disabled on campus, citing an incident where a prospective student was unable to join a tour group because the route lacked wheelchair access at certain points.
“I was wondering if there’s something that [you] could do to make our campus more ADA friendly,” Paulet said.
Senior Class Senator Joshua Bertalotto talked about acknowledging the importance of Native American representation on campus, something that he feels Hopkins has neglected.
“We are such a small population on campus, but I think that often means we’re overlooked,” Bertalotto said. “Now, more than ever, we need more help to increase those numbers in recruitment and things like that.”
Fisher promised to consider such concerns and discussed how the University will address them as it aims to step up diversity and inclusion on campus.
Senior Class Senator Mieraf Teka, chair of the committee on Academic Affairs, talked about a survey going out to non-premed students in an attempt to improve advising. She also has been meeting with various department heads to further a proposal to include syllabi and class ratings on SIS.
Executive Secretary Rushabh Doshi explained how Hopkins could model its class registration process after Harvard’s.
“When they’re signing up for classes, it shows the workload… and they also show the average grade,” Doshi said. “We brought this up and they said that this is something that’s definitely a possibility, they’re going to be able to see to it.”
Boutros, who is head of the Civic Engagement Committee, spoke about a planned campaign for student voter registration next semester in conjunction with the organization Turbovote.
“Next semester we will go ahead and start pushing to get people registered,” Boutros said. “My goal is still to get 2,500 people on it by the end of the school year and then get all the freshmen next year in orientation to get trained and get Turbovote so that by the midterms as many people as possible are voting from Hopkins.”
The SGA also voted to pass a $185 bill presented by Executive Treasurer Mi Tu that would fund a cultural highlight event on African culture hosted by the Office of International Students.
Junior Class President Ash Panakam gave updates about the SGA’s recent push to improve resources for mental health on campus after a meeting with Matthew Torres, executive director of the Counseling Center. Panakam mentioned that the library will soon be undergoing renovations, and there have been calls to create zen meditation spaces for students as well as the creation of a counseling room in the library. There have also been calls for increased funding and resources for the Center.
“Right now, the wait time is two weeks, which is pretty long, but they haven’t been able to bring it down,” Panakam said.