Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 30, 2024

SGA Semester Review: Student input yields results

By KYRA TOOMRE | December 6, 2013

The Johns Hopkins Student Government Association is committed to improving each student’s experience at Hopkins. This semester our Committees, Class Councils and Executive Board has created many new initiatives and events in an effort to increase transparency and continue to improve student life. We have been hard at work meeting with administrators, completing projects and executing events to make your lives at Hopkins students more enjoyable. Here is a recap of what we’ve been up to:

The Student Services Committee has been working on 3 major projects. The committee has been working with the Vice Provost's office to centralize communication and create a better system for daily announcements. As the project progresses, the SGA and the university administration hope to create a central hub of information that will incorporate daily announcements, event calendars for student groups, and university news. Second, the committee is cooperating with the Office of Transportation to create a pilot program for shuttles to Towson Mall and Hampden on Saturdays during the spring semester. Finally, the committee is working on a number of smaller projects such as creating the 
"Student Picks" section in CharMar, opening up more spaces for recreational sports use, installing printers in the AMRs, delineating gender neutral bathrooms, and putting USB outlets in the library.

The Safety, Sustainability, and Development (SSD) Committee is improving student life by working on various projects promoting sustainability and security on campus. SSD has been selling Hopkins travel coffee mugs at campus events for $5. When students use these mugs at any of the campus cafés, they get a discount on their coffee and at the same time reduce paper-cup waste. The money collected from the sales will go towards funding a large project carried out by various sustainability groups on campus. (There are still mugs left for sale so make sure to check the SGA Facebook page for sale times.) They also successfully executed the Public Security Announcements contest and co-hosted the third annual Security Week. They are also in the process of planning a St. Baldrick’s spring charity event.

The Academic Affairs Committee has secured blackout exam dates for the Monday after Spring Break and the Monday after Spring Fair. They also sent a proposal to the Academic Council for Latin Honors. The average GPA at Hopkins is substantially lower than at our peer institutions. Latin Honors would put Hopkins GPAs into context, making undergrads more competitive directly out of college. The AA Committee has focused on the improvement of the academic advising experience. One ongoing initiative is the development of a peer-mentoring program to assist underclassmen with course selection and other areas of student life. The program is set to pilot this Spring during the Fall 2014 registration period. AA plans to create sample schedules for undecided majors in broad academic areas including social sciences, natural sciences and humanities. The committee is also developing potential criteria for the creation of a biochem major, along with neuroscience and political science minors.

The finance committee has funded multiple student ventures through SGA including Movember and the condoms in the library. Through the finance committee, students who have great ideas for events or initiatives benefitting a significant portion of the school can come to SGA with their proposals and possibly get funding for their idea.

The Appointments and Evaluations Committee has been interviewing with and proposing groups for approval or denial to all of SGA. This semester SGA also partnered with the senior leadership consultants to ensure that all new student groups have proper advising in order to succeed and group at Hopkins.

The class councils have also been hard at work. The senior class council has focused on two major initiatives. First, we worked with the President's Office to provide student input in choosing a commencement speaker that represents the values of the Class of 2014 and the university as a whole. While the final decision is ultimately left to the President's Office, we hope that our input will help ensure that the most suitable speaker is selected. Second, the class council has created a number of events that have facilitated class community, including happy hours at Mex and Mother’s, a Wine and Cheese night, and free breakfast at the FFC. As we move into the second semester, we hope to create a "disorientation" week in April, which will have a number of events that will help to prepare us for life in the real world.

The junior council started off stronger than ever this semester. The year was kicked off with two great class-bonding events: a welcome-back cake for the class in early September as well as a BBQ in early October. Within the first month, they booked and organized the larger details of the Junior Class Boat Cruise to take place on April 17, 2014. In addition, granted $1,000 from the Student Life grant, they joined with the Senior Class Council to host a Student-Faculty Social Hour, which took place in early November. There was outstanding attendance from faculty across the university as well as many students who took advantage of the opportunity to interact with their professors and advisors. Now, we are working on assessing the interest of the class in a time capsule to be opened at a later class reunion.

The sophomore class council has been putting in every effort to let the sophomore class be heard by the administration. They have sent out several surveys making sure that students have an opportunity to let us know what the SGA can do better as a school and have actively been following this feedback as a venue for academic, social, and cultural reform at Johns Hopkins. With the help of Executive board, they also gave out late night ice cream to sophomores locked out side of Commons on the night of the fire to boost moral. After sponsoring an extremely successful trivia night with the freshmen class council, they are all set to hold another one next semester.

The freshmen class council has also worked hard to make the freshman class feel at home in their first year at Hopkins. At Lighting of the Quads we handed out holiday care packages in order to send students into their final exams in a cheery spirit. In addition, we set up an FFC Suggestion Page on Facebook to ensure all students to have the best dining experience possible.

The SGA is extremely dedicated to increasing school spirit and the sense of community on campus. With the help of the Student life office, Beta Theta Pi and the Hop, SGA has held many spirit events this fall that boosted athletics attendance. A senator has successfully restarted the JHU Cheerleading team and they are already coming out in full force to games and events. In the spring, the SGA plans to help fund and found a spirit group that is dedicated to going to games and boosting the Blue Jay Spirit.

Executive board started a new monthly event in where the SGA solicits requests and problems from the student body in exchange for free food. It both increases transparency as to who the members of SGA are and helps get input from the entire student body. It has been much more successful than previous town halls because it does not take much time and more people contribute. Many of the initiatives the SGA has been working on so far this year have came from those suggestions.

In response to the student outrage the instatement of the intersession fee, SGA wrote a memorandum to the administration explaining the reasons for concern and asking for the fee to be removed. After much conversation, the fee was elevated for this year. The SGA played an integral role in the removal of the fee.

The entire SGA team already has many more projects planned for the spring, but we’re always looking for student input. If you have any ideas, please let us know and make sure to watch out for future announcements by liking us on Facebook. The SGA is working for you, so make sure to tell us what you want!

Kyra is the Executive Secretary of the JHU Student Government Association. Her views reflect those of the SGA.

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