Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 22, 2021

Students have been left out of the room where it happens for too long

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | September 23, 2021

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Changes to vaccine guidelines is just one of the recent announcements increasing students’ anxieties due to the lack of communication from the University, leaving many still wanting more transparency from the Hopkins administration. 

Just a week before students arrived on campus, international students were informed that they would have to be re-vaccinated with a FDA-approved vaccine, while peer institutions have not required the same. Hopkins itself recognized the lack of controlled studies on the matter, providing little to no support for international students. 

While the University has set up a comprehensive COVID-19 dashboard for students to receive information, the administration often fails to meet its own deadlines in providing policy updates to the student body. Vague timelines and the lack of clear reasoning behind decisions have ultimately made students feel indifferent and isolated from the university’s decision-making processes.

We acknowledge that the University has been better at broadcasting information; however, with insufficient student representation in the decision making processes and no institutional accountability mechanisms, students are often left with more questions than answers.

The University also revoked students’ fall break this year without upfront explanation or rationale. In prior years, students enjoyed both a weekend fall break and a week-long Thanksgiving break.

This is yet another instance of the University failing to provide students with a proper explanation for an unpopular policy. Of course, a mouthpiece for our student body does exist: the Student Government Association (SGA) discussed the lack of fall break at its most recent meeting. 

According to SGA, this change is meant to standardize calendars across campuses. The policy change becomes even more puzzling, then, when considering that the Peabody Institute, another one of the University’s campuses, is providing its students with both a fall break and a week-long Thanksgiving break. 

If the University made this change in order to standardize the academic calendar across Hopkins, why are there still multiple calendars within our institution? 

While we appreciate that SGA is gauging student opinion, a poll is not progress. The administration itself needs to give students a seat at the table. 

This could be accomplished quite literally: Hopkins should allow a student member on the Board of Trustees. Similar institutions have implemented this practice, and the University’s adoption of the Student Trustee position would be a clear step towards including students in decision-making processes. 

Currently, the University holds town halls with the purported purpose of including the perspectives of students and other community members in decisions. The town halls, though, are often held when students are in class, and are typically more of a lecture than a dialogue. 

The reality of these town halls is that they’re inaccessible, and we rarely get the chance to ask questions or present our ideas. 

The Committee to Establish Principles on Naming represents another opportunity for increased transparency from the University. Despite announcing its intention to publish committee recommendations by June, the University has yet to update the student body. It is still unclear if and when the renaming guidelines will be implemented. 

Here at The News-Letter, we take our responsibility to keep the student body informed very seriously. The Editorial Board will continue pushing the University to be more transparent — we can only hope that the administration will make the same commitment to its students. 

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