The Student Government Association (SGA) endorsed a letter calling on University President Ronald J. Daniels and Board of Trustees Chair Louis J. Forster to remit 25 percent of students’ spring 2020 tuition at their weekly meeting on March 31. SGA also discussed how it will continue operating in the wake of the cancellation of in-person classes and heard a presentation from a group of graduate students on issues with the Student Conduct Code violation adjudication process.
Senior Class President Pavan Patel, who prepared the letter, argued that this would be an appropriate way to compensate students for the loss of half-of-a-semester’s worth of in-person instruction and campus access while not hampering the University’s ability to meet its payroll obligations.
Asking students to pay regular tuition during an irregular situation, Patel said, is not right.
“We understand the situation and fully appreciate the work that’s being done. But at the end of the day, students should not be responsible for paying to run a university we can’t attend,” Patel said. “We ask that the University also makes some sacrifices and refund part of that tuition.”
Fellow SGA members raised concerns about how to calculate the percent of tuition that would be requested and questioned how the refunds would impact students on financial aid or scholarships who were not required to pay full tuition in the first place.
Patel proposed a formula for determining the amount of reimbursement. He proposed taking half of the regular tuition as an initial sum for the remittance. The University could then take out of that initial sum whatever it needs to cover its obligations. His said that his belief is that this left-over sum should be about $7,000.
SGA also heard graduate students Mariam Banahi, Mitchell Cram and Sebastian Link-Chaparro discuss Student Conduct Code hearing procedures at Hopkins.
They said that they do not believe that there is enough transparency regarding the conduct review process. They asked SGA to support their petition for an institutional reform of this process.
“We are calling for a moratorium on conduct hearings, a reevaluation of the conduct process and for Hopkins to better protect students,” Banahi said.
Some senators, like Senior Class Senator Chase McAdams, said that they believed that interceding on behalf of students who violated the Student Conduct Code would damage SGA’s relationship with the University.
“If we sign onto that we might as well say goodbye to SGA. You broke the rules and of course you are going to be prosecuted,” McAdams said. “We can’t get anything done without administrator support.”
Junior Class Senator William Cho disagreed with McAdams.
“A lot of students on campus agree that even if they do something wrong, they struggle to have a clear understanding of what the conduct review process is like. We can facilitate a conversation with the administration on how to make that more clear,” he said.
Senior Class Senator Chanel Lee pointed out that individual SGA members could support the cause of the graduate students even if SGA did not as a body support the movement.
Ultimately, senators voted 18 to three not to endorse Banahi, Cram and Link-Chaparro’s petition.
SGA members discussed initiatives to allow students to make up events that they will be missing due to not being on campus.
Freshman Class President Breanna Soldatelli spoke about the freshmen who missed this spring’s freshman formal as well as the Class of 2024 freshman who will be missing their high school proms. She hopes to plan a formal next year, the invite list to which will include both groups of students.
Junior Class President Isaac Lucas discussed how juniors who missed their boat cruise want the opportunity to have a make-up event once in-person classes recommence.
SGA advisor and Student Leadership and Involvement (SLI) Director Calvin Smith agreed that making up events is important but warned that the budget may not allow for both a senior and a junior boat cruise next year.
Patel assured seniors that SGA is working with the President’s Office to send out a link which will allow seniors to give their ideas on how to structure their virtual commencement as well as their redo commencement ceremony.
The meeting closed with a discussion of the upcoming SGA elections. The Committee on Student Elections (CSE) announced that it had decided that spring elections will take place as online elections.
CSE Chair Bahira Ahmed explained that this decision was made with incoming SGA members in mind.
“We are trying to fast-track this election so the incoming members can have at least two or three SGA meetings to get used to it,” Ahmed said.
To facilitate online elections, the CSE announced that it had made two adjustments to the election process.
The first is that candidates will no longer have to petition due to the difficult nature of validating and acquiring online signatures. The second is that the CSE is not allowing those who ran in the executive election to run for class council.
According to Executive President Dean Chien, SGA is working with other schools to figure out how to best benefit its student body in other ways. He spoke about a call he took on Saturday with the presidents of student governments at other universities around the country.
“There are similar issues that we are all going through, like commencement being cancelled,” he said. “We’re all working together to figure out what alternatives there are.”