The newly elected Student Government Association (SGA) held its first in-person meeting of the year on Tuesday, August 31 to discuss past projects and prepare for the upcoming semester.
Junior Senator Chinat Yu highlighted the recent difficulties faced by international students due to school vaccination mandates requiring the taking of a vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), even if they had taken one cleared by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Our big concern is that there is no scientific proof about what happens if you have two mixed vaccine shots within a short period of time,” Yu said.
Junior Senator Peter Huang had been working on an email to be sent to school officials, hoping the University would assume some responsibilities for the mixed vaccine registration if it negatively impacts students’ health.
“A lot of international students come without their families. All we have is the support of our friends. We are pretty much very isolated,” Huang said. “We really do regard Hopkins as our second home, so we do want to see the school come through on this initiative, at least providing the security that if anything goes wrong, Hopkins would be there for us.”
Sophomore Class President Kobi Khong expressed concerns that some wordings in the email may cause people to misinterpret the information as “anti-vax.” Huang replied that international students were mostly vaccinated before coming to the United States, the only difference being that they received WHO-approved ones instead of FDA-approved vaccines.
Senior Class President Nathan Mudrak suggested examining every word of the statement before sending it to ensure none of the wording supported arguments against vaccination.
“We’re committed to the Hopkins name, so anything we send out and publish could be snatched and used for purposes that we might not necessarily agree with,” he said. “Before we were to sign something as an official body, I would really hope that we take the time to make sure everything is vetted by health policy people.”
SGA agreed to table the written message for another meeting in order to carefully review it.
Yu also presented a course evaluation platform he had been working on throughout the summer. He asserted that the current platform is only used internally to grade professors, giving students problems due to the lack of transparency.
“We as students never get to see those evaluations anymore,” he said. “That’s a big problem for us as students because I want to know how this class is based on what other people say, right?”
Yu hopes to organize a group of students to collaboratively write out high-quality class reviews.
“This would then be published on an open platform and potentially integrated with platforms like Semesterly to enable students to search for and understand classes more quickly and better,” he said.
Committee on Student Elections (CSE) Chair Mimi Mensah presented a change in the CSE constitution that would bar candidates from sending mass emails.
“We felt as though candidates didn’t have to send mass emails or long mailing lists,” she said.
The motion was passed unanimously. New CSE members were also confirmed in the meeting.
Executive President Muhak Ali also introduced the current members of the Judiciary. All four current Judiciary members were confirmed unanimously, with a fifth person yet to be recruited.