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June 16, 2024

New fee for Intersession stirs student complaints

By AMANDA AUBLE | November 7, 2013

With the Johns Hopkins University Summer & Intersession Programs’ recent announcement that the upcoming 2014 Intersession period now requires certain classes to charge a $250 non-refundable enrollment fee, Hopkins students have started to voice their opposition.

“The $250 fine is unwarranted based on the amount of tuition that students already have to pay,” sophomore Dylan Cowit said. “[The courses] aren’t worth that much, and I likely won’t be doing intersession this year because of it.”

Unique to Hopkins, Intersession is the period of approximately three weeks in January when students voluntarily participate in programs for additional academic credit, personal enrichment, studying abroad, career development or community service.

The courses offered are often distinct, and their subject matter is not usually found during the University’s fall or spring semesters. Intersession is also popular as a time for students to explore interests outside of their field or major.

Intersession this year will take place from Jan. 6 to Jan. 24. During this time, on-campus housing will be available to students.

Up until this year, Intersession opportunities have been free to all participants. Due to this sudden change, students have become skeptical of the fee’s purpose.

The Summer & Intersession Program’s website provides the University’s justification for the new cost.

“When the intersession program began several decades ago, it was very small and offered mainly courses that were not for credit. Today, the program has grown to incorporate almost 40 percent of the undergraduate student body. Unfortunately, it is just not possible for the two Homewood schools to cover this cost any more,” the site’s disclaimer states.

Specifically, the programs that require the $250 fee are designated as “Academic Exploration” courses. They are either one or two credit-bearing classes sponsored by the various departments within the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering.

The fee’s application to credit-based classes has also led to controversy as other Intersession programs remain free.

This year, freshmen students are eligible to enroll in the B’more program running from Tuesday, Jan. 21 through Friday, Jan. 24.

This program, now in its seventh year, is designed to introduce freshmen to Baltimore and to help them establish a relationship with their new home city. The curriculum includes classes with certain departmental focuses as well as social and service activities. However, the fee is waived for this program, along with study abroad programs.

In response to the fee’s introduction, some Hopkins students have established an online petition that is currently being shared across several social media sites. The goal of this petition is to acquire 1,000 signatures.

“Intersession is both an important social and academic experience, and it’s an integral part of our community’s identity here at Hopkins. Putting a fee on such an important aspect of our college experience is tarnishing that identity. Furthermore, the administration did not weigh student sentiment or address the issue of financial aid,” the petition states.

Students who support the petition against the fee feel that it is the best method to have their voices heard by the university.

“I think the petition will help give the students a way to collectively contact the higher-ups because I’m not sure how helpful sending a bunch of emails will be. A petition with 1,000 signatures, I think, would say a lot,” freshman Jonathan Liu said.

The petition is gaining support and currently has around 690 student signatures. This overwhelming response from students has forced the Summer & Intersession Program to address the issue.

“We have heard the concerns being raised around the newly enacted $250 fee for credit-bearing courses that are a part of the Intersession Program. We are considering all of this feedback and will be following up shortly with our students,” Director of Summer & Intersession Programs Jessica Madrigal said.

For now, the fee still remains mandatory and online registration for Academic Exploration classes is scheduled for Dec. 3, 2013.

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