Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 21, 2021

SGA stresses the need for more PILOT funding

By XINYUE GU | March 26, 2021

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This summer, the University plans to use residential halls for quarantine and isolation, as opposed to the Colonnade.

The Student Government Association (SGA) discussed a resolution to provide more funding to the PILOT program during its weekly meeting on Tuesday, March 23.

PILOT sessions are weekly, student-led meetings in which members of a class meet with a student who has previously done well in the class to go over problem sets.

Senior Class Senator Anish Nayak and Freshman Class Senator Jenny Chen introduced the PILOT funding resolution, which will go into effect in the fall semester. 

Chen explained that many freshmen have expressed the need for more academic support from PILOT. According to Chen, Ariane Kelly, the director of academic support, told her that PILOT lacks the funding to have additional courses.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Chen said, there has been a significant rise in the number of students enrolled in PILOT. Right now, around 1,600 students are enrolled for various classes.

“For most students, the pandemic has really negatively impacted their academic performance,” she said. “We really need more academic support for a lot of students who are still at home or in hybrid models.”

According to Nayak, other institutions provide more training for tutors. Washington University in St. Louis has a similar program to PILOT where peer leaders have to complete a credit course before starting peer tutoring. Hopkins does not have this requirement. 

Junior Class Senator Megan Chien expressed support for the bill, emphasizing that she wants to see courses offered for PILOT that extend beyond those at the introductory level.

“I would love to see PILOT for Computer Science classes because I really need help for those,” she said. “Each major has harder classes at the intermediate level that would benefit from PILOT.”

The senators noted that the PILOT program requires a minimum of $130,000 per year to afford the student-staff salary, which is nearly at the minimum wage for each employee. 

Senior Class Senator Shizheng Tie felt that it is not fair to pay PILOT leaders at the minimum wage.

“Considering that they have to put in more work outside of their PILOT hours, such as preparing for the sessions and communicating with students, they should be paid more,” she said.

The resolution was passed unanimously.

SGA members also heard a presentation on quarantine and isolation housing from Dean of Student Life Smita Ruzicka and Director of Student Outreach and Support Elizabeth Winberry.

During the presentation, Ruzicka explained that the University recognized the need to designate housing away from the residential halls for public and mental health concerns.

Ruzicka acknowledged that some students have expressed their dissatisfaction with the process but stressed that the staff is reacting to any concerns as quickly as possible.

“When I think about the core purpose of why we created that space and this process, I feel like we went above and beyond in terms of ensuring the health and safety of the students in quarantine and isolation, as well as the communities that they were coming from,” she said.

Ruzicka reported that administrators is planning to use residential halls for quarantine and isolation during the summer since they anticipate fewer students to be on campus then. For the fall semester, the office will look at a similar quarantine and isolation model as that of the spring, using spaces in the Inn at the Colonnade.

Sophomore Class Senator Chinat Yu voiced his concern for international students. 

“I’m curious to understand if the current arrangements apply for international students who are planning to return back in the fall and would require mandatory quarantine,” he said. “Is that going to happen, and what’s the policy regarding that?”

Ruzicka replied that the University is still waiting for guidance regarding international students from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before making further plans.

Freshman Class Senator Elaina Regier questioned the systems in place to ensure that all the information regarding quarantine and isolation is standardized.

“One problem that we had was a bit of discontinuity between the student health and wellness center and my COVID case managers,” she said. “They didn’t have the same release state for me, which resulted in my J-Card not being activated when I needed to get back into my residence hall.”

In response, Winberry noted that the process now involves staff from the housing office to confirm all check-in and release dates twice.

Sophomore Class Senator Talia Shadroui asked how current COVID-19 support resources are being advertised to students both on and off campus.

Winberry highlighted that the University decided to use the Colonnade to support off-campus students.

“Regardless, all students who test positive will receive information about available University resources and support,” she said. “Off-campus students who quarantine and isolate at home need to come up with a plan but also can receive support from the University offices.”

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