Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 12, 2024

Can our small wins be stepping stones to real change?

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | August 31, 2023


As freshmen are adjusting to campus, so are we. For returning students, this isn’t the Hopkins we’ve always known (though that’s not necessarily a bad thing). With new physical changes and new policy changes, our ever-evolving campus looks a bit different this semester. 

President Ronald J. Daniels recently announced the formation of a new data science and translation institute, which will serve as a home for the exploration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. With plans to recruit 80 new affiliated faculty in the School of Engineering as well as 30 Bloomberg Distinguished Professors, the institute will strive to understand AI’s interdisciplinary potential. We expect that, in the next several years, the University will break ground on the center’s “state-of-the-art facility.”

While we wait, other buildings are cropping up around Homewood Campus and beyond. This fall, the School of Advanced International Studies will welcome students to its new headquarters at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in D.C. Starting spring 2024, the space will host the Hopkins Semester in D.C. program, allowing undergraduates to pursue research and education in the nation’s capital.

Currently under construction next to the Wyman Park Building, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Agora Building will unite the School of Arts and Sciences faculty with scholars, policymakers and practitioners in a dedicated space. Set to open in early 2024, the new building will be home to research labs as well as collaborative workspaces. A little bit later, in 2025, the Hopkins Student Center will open its doors, providing the nonacademic gathering spots that students have been asking for. 

While these are physical changes to campus, we are also seeing policy changes. In past years, dining dollars have expired at the end of the spring semester — a cause of panicked CharMar shopping sprees for many students on a meal plan. Starting this fall, dining dollars from the previous year will be rolled over. What’s more, dining dollars can now be used at the Daily Grind in both Mudd Hall and Brody Learning Commons (BLC). 

In addition, the University has listened to student requests for more transportation options and has added two new shuttle routes from Homewood Campus to Hampden. One route takes students from campus to Giant Food and another provides direct access to The Charmery and The Rotunda. 

As students, we have spoken up to improve dining and transportation. Though these changes may be small, they impact our campus experience and demonstrate the effectiveness of using our collective voice.

However, in other aspects of campus life, student demands have gone largely unanswered. Despite numerous student, faculty and community protests, the University has continued with its plans to implement the Johns Hopkins Police Department (JHPD). Though we have not received any updates on the progress of the JHPD over the summer, we hope that the University is transparent in its plans to implement a private police force. We also hope that students will continue to voice their opinions and that their input will be heard by the University. 

Another significant change on campus this year is one not of the University’s own volition, but one imposed by the federal government. Following the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling that affirmative action in higher education is unconstitutional, race-conscious admissions are now prohibited. In response to the court’s decision, Daniels announced the University’s “unwavering commitment” to preserving diversity in its student body. We are optimistic that Hopkins will do all it can to prioritize diversity in the next round of admissions, despite legal obstacles. 

While we might not be able to overturn a SCOTUS decision, we remain hopeful that we can effect change in the Hopkins community. We recognize that buying a dirty chai from the BLC Daily Grind with dining dollars is in no way comparable to preventing the implementation of a private police force, but we hope that each small win encourages students to voice their opinions on all facets of life at Hopkins. 

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