Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
November 30, 2023

As the semester draws to a close, students are itching to start their summer plans and move on from the school year. However, before we begin our vacations, we should take the time to look back on the past year and reflect on all that has happened on campus. 

This was a year of mobilization and activism. In November, Hopkins Dining workers protested for improved job security. Additionally, after years of organizing to better their working conditions and pay, graduate students overwhelmingly voted to unionize in January. Now officially recognized by the University, Teachers and Researchers United (TRU-UE) will provide graduate students a platform to collectively bargain for contracts. 

Community members, in tandem with Hopkins students and staff, renewed their commitment to mobilize against the Johns Hopkins Police Department (JHPD). Many engaged in protests while TRU-UE and IDEAL held panels to discuss alternatives to the private police force. The Abell Improvement Association also expressed concern that the JHPD would only exacerbate issues in surrounding neighborhoods. 

Despite many community members’ vocal opposition to the JHPD, Hopkins has chosen to move forward with its plans for the private police force. Recently, the University chose Branville G. Bard Jr. as the inaugural chief of police, though he will continue to serve as the vice president for public safety.

Though mobilization has been especially prevalent on campus this year, it upholds a long legacy of Hopkins student and staff activism. To learn more about the diverse causes students have championed throughout the years, check out our latest Magazine edition, The Student Advocacy Magazine. 

This past year, the University has also made strides in enhancing diversity among faculty and students. With the aim of expanding minority representation at the faculty level, the University announced plans to hire 13 faculty members in November as part of the Fannie Gaston-Johansson Faculty of Excellence Program. Additionally, in January, Hopkins partnered with QuestBridge — a national nonprofit that matches high-achieving, low-income students with prestigious universities. Through the new partnership, Hopkins will have the opportunity to welcome more students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. 

In addition to updates on community activism and the University’s diversity initiatives, The News-Letter has kept the student body informed on other exciting news around campus.

The University opened the doors of the Imagine Center last semester, providing a new home for the Life Design Lab (LDL). The space has since afforded students more opportunities to connect with LDL educators and explore various career possibilities in preparation for life beyond Hopkins. 

At the cutting edge of science and technology, Hopkins researchers at the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) continued to make exciting discoveries through the James Webb Space Telescope, which has made headlines worldwide. The University has hosted campus events to celebrate the APL’s work, such as the live screening of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test. 

Clearly, though it may feel like this year has gone by fast and all you’ve done is study for exams and write papers, a lot has happened on and around campus. The news cycle has picked up momentum, and we’re excited that it doesn’t involve flurries of COVID-19 broadcasts

Exciting guest speakers have visited campus in-person, marking a change from the land of webinars and Zoom cameras we have known for all too long. The Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium hosted gay rights champion Jim Obergefell in the fall while the Foreign Affairs Symposium hosted abortion activist Heather Booth in the spring. Plus, we have the Spring Fair concert with Kehlani to look forward to this Saturday.

Additionally, there are so many fun outdoor events to enjoy, especially now that the weather is warming up. Spending time outside feels like a treat now that it isn’t simply a safety protocol to minimize COVID-19 transmission. While we acknowledge that COVID-19 is still present and a genuine public health concern, we are also glad that — for the most part — we have been able to transition back to the status quo prior to the pandemic.

Aside from on-campus news and events, students were finally able to explore more of Baltimore and attend programs hosted by the University’s other campuses. Our writers traveled to the Peabody campus to cover many of their productions, and new opportunities for collaboration between Peabody and Homewood generated some very creative performances. Students were able to attend street fairs and events from neighboring communities that were back in action, and they tried out different cuisines around Baltimore, too — check out our new Leisure map for more recommendations. 

Even though life as a Hopkins student is full of exams, meetings and various other obligations, we shouldn’t take what’s going on around us for granted. This summer, while you’re at your internship or lounging on a beach (not The Beach), take a moment to reflect on the year that is coming to a close. And, if you’re returning in the fall, ask yourself: What kind of campus do you want to see next year?

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