The University recently released a policy granting full-time graduate students and postdoctoral trainees eight weeks of fully-paid leave upon having a new child. The policy targets those with recent family additions and aims to encourage the well-being of new parents and their children.
The Editorial Board commends the University for putting this policy into place and addressing some of the concerns raised by graduate students this past year, particularly regarding the healthcare they receive. At the same time, we recognize that this policy has not fully addressed the demands of graduate students.
Last April, nearly 50 graduate students organized by Teachers and Researchers United (TRU) marched on Garland Hall, demanding a better healthcare plan. The protestors criticized the current University -provided healthcare plan. They demanded a fully funded health insurance plan that includes family leave for graduate student parents, coverage for mental health providers outside the University counseling center, dental and vision care and STI/HIV testing.
At Garland last April, several graduate students recounted their own experiences relating to the inadequacies of the University’s healthcare plan.
One student spoke about how he decided not to call an ambulance after suffering from a bicycle accident that left him with cracked ribs. He said that the 20 percent co-insurance payment made the ambulance ride to the hospital too expensive.
Another student explained that with the way the University’s current plan was set up, it was cheaper to fly to Italy for oral surgery instead of getting the procedure done here in the U.S.
We believe that graduate students have the right to affordable and comprehensive healthcare, as called for by TRU. Given the meager salary graduate students receive, having to shoulder such high out of pocket costs is an excessive burden that inhibits their ability to both teach and learn at this University.
We recognize that the new-child accommodation policy is a step in the right direction.
We believe that the University has the responsibility for providing a supportive learning environment for its students and employees in pursuing balanced and fulfilling academic, professional and personal lives.
We encourage Hopkins to continue improving how it provides its students and employees with the healthcare they request and deserve.