We have come to the end of another semester at Hopkins. Fall 2022 was challenging, rewarding and in many ways the first “normal” semester since the University suspended in-person instruction in March 2020.
We’re excited to be back in-person. At the start of the semester, as nearly all classes returned to an in-person modality this semester, students expressed that they had missed the face-to-face communication that online courses lacked. However, though many of us are now spared the awkward silence of Zoom breakout rooms, we’re still feeling the impacts of the virus that sent us online in the first place.
Around campus, we’ve seen many tapping fingers, mid-lecture text breaks and eyes glued to wall clocks. It seems that our attention spans are shot, but it doesn’t mean Hopkins students don’t have their priorities straight. Many of us have caught COVID-19 by this point, and studies have shown even mild cases of the virus can have adverse effects on memory and attention spans.
This semester has been challenging. But let’s look on the bright side: It’s almost over. The new year brings new opportunities to feel and do better. Rather than stocking up on multivitamins or signing up for a gym membership, we want to see the Hopkins student body create a different kind of resolution this January — engaging with our community.
At the start of the semester, the Student Involvement Fair set the tone for the months to come, as it was the first time the event was fully in-person since 2019. The Ralph O’Connor Recreation Center was packed with hundreds of students exploring the student organizations present. In our article covering the event, club leaders noted the increased turnout compared with previous virtual recruitment efforts.
The shift to in-person student life means clubs have been more active this semester, reviving old traditions and forging new paths. For example, the student radio station, WJHU, is tackling the challenge of getting back on the airwaves and aims to connect the community through music and entertainment. Meanwhile, the Alternative Protein Project has been bringing attention to the cutting-edge development of alternative protein by hosting guest lectures and encouraging others to explore the field.
The News-Letter is also experiencing a period of rebirth. We resumed print production this fall, bringing back a tradition that has defined the paper for more than a century. Simultaneously, we have expanded our reach through our podcast.
As clubs have become more visible on campus, so have the activists in our community. Teachers and Researchers United (TRU), an unofficial graduate student union, gathered on Keyser Quad in late October to demand fair wages and host a union card drive. Further, dining workers held a picket line demonstration last month amid union negotiations with the University regarding job security.
The Hopkins community has also continued to protest the Johns Hopkins Police Department (JHPD), which has been a contentious issue since its initial announcement in March 2018. Protesters disrupted the first and second town halls on the initial draft of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and, last Tuesday, a group protested on Homewood Campus against the signing of the MOU.
Despite this, levels of community engagement and discussion regarding the JHPD aren’t at their previous levels. The Student Government Association (SGA) conducted a public safety survey to gauge student opinions on the JHPD. The survey results showed 48% of the student body reported being anti-JHPD, compared to 74% in 2018. However, this year’s survey was only available for five days and garnered 823 responses compared to 2,070 in 2018.
Admittedly, SGA’s poor administration of a valuable survey was to be expected. Back in October, we expressed our disappointment in SGA’s inaction and lack of transparency.
Heading into the new year, we would like to see more of the Hopkins student body stay informed of and engaged with the community. Though it goes without saying, reading the paper is an easy place to start. You can stay updated on University announcements and events just by visiting our website or following us on Instagram. If you want to see more of the community surrounding campus, make one of the restaurants on our Leisure Interactive Food Map your next destination.
Make engagement a part of your routine and commit to the community that clubs provide. Believe it or not, student organizations are more than something to slap on a resume. Without the people we share passions and hobbies with, college would just be made up of textbooks and due dates. We don’t recommend signing up for every club that sounds half-interesting — rather than spread yourself too thin, find a few things that really matter to you and stick with them.
We know we’re all busy and just trying to get through the week but, while we’re here, we should get to know the people, places and issues surrounding us. So go ahead, when the Times Square Ball drops, buy those vitamins and yoga mats. Write down all your goals. Just make sure you add community involvement to the list.