<![CDATA[The Johns Hopkins News-Letter]]> Thu, 23 May 2019 09:02:49 -0400 Thu, 23 May 2019 09:02:49 -0400 SNworks CEO 2019 The Johns Hopkins News-Letter <![CDATA[Baltimore police arrest students at Garland Hall]]> Editor's Note: This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Baltimore Police officers arrested seven people -including four students -who were part of a month-long sit-in at Garland Hall on Wednesday morning. Students and community members have been holding a sit-in at Garland Hall to protest the creation of a private police force and the University's contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement since April 3.

At around 11 a.m., a spokesperson for the Baltimore City State's Attorney Office announced that the office will not prosecute those arrested. Later on Wednesday afternoon, those arrested were released from Central Booking and Intake Center without charges or bail.

Police said they arrested five of the protesters for trespassing and two others for impeding vehicle traffic. Among those arrested were undergraduatesReshmi Patel and Agatha Gilman and graduate students Marios Falaris and Mariam Banahi.

Earlier Wednesday morning, administrators had called on the Baltimore Police Department and the Baltimore City Fire Department at 4:51 a.m. to evict students from the building and re-open Garland Hall. The University had closed down Garland on May 1 after organizers escalated their tactics, chaining the doors shut and chaining themselves to the building's stairwells.

According to The Baltimore Sun, 80 police officers arrived outside Garland Hall to vacate protesters from the building, offering amnesty to those who willingly left the sit-in. When students refused to leave, police officers began making arrests.

As the arrests were made, two of the protesters lay down by the vans. According to The Baltimore Sun and Baltimore Brew, police officers misgendered a transgender woman they arrested and tried to force her into a van for male-identifying people. In opposing the planned private police force, students have often argued that police pose an especial threat to LGBTQ students, as well as students of color and students with disabilities.

In a university-wide email sent at 9:08 a.m., University President Ronald J. Daniels and Provost Sunil Kumar explained their decision to summon local fire and police personnel.

"What began as a demonstration against university policies in recent days took a turn, as students and outside activists chained the doors closed, blocked exits and entrances to the building, harassed and intimidated our staff, and physically prevented fellow students from receiving essential services. This was no longer a peaceful show of civil disobedience, but instead a forcible occupation of a university building in contravention of the law and university code of conduct," they wrote.

They also reiterated that they had made efforts to meet with students and negotiate with them and that they have not been cooperative in the process.

"In the intervening days, we worked around the clock to bring the occupation to a constructive conclusion. We made open-ended offers to meet and provide amnesty to our students. We also undertook an intensive effort to communicate with student protesters, directly and through their families, friends, and mentors," they wrote. "While some student protesters were receptive to these overtures; others regrettably were not."

However, since Garland Hall shut down, administrators and organizers have been exchanging emails to arrange a meeting time for negotiations. This past Sunday, administrators emailed organizers of the sit-in proposing a live-streamed meeting at FastForward U for Monday at 9:30 a.m, inviting student protesters who willingly left or were willing to leave the occupation.

Protesters did not attend the meeting, explaining in an email sent at 5 p.m. on Monday that University officials had not given them enough time to respond collectively as a group. In the same email, organizers also requested that administrators not call upon law enforcement and to grant academic, professional and legal amnesty to all participants.

At 12:19 a.m. on Wednesday, organizers sent a follow-up email reiterating these demands to administrators listing possible dates and times for negotiations.

"We reiterate our commitment to an expedited negotiation. We look forward to meeting with you and working towards a safe resolution for all parties involved," they wrote.

Outgoing Student Government Association Executive President AJ Tsang wrote in an email to The News-Letter that he was surprised by the timing of the arrests, given recent correspondence between students and administrators.

"In the twenty-four hours leading up to the police operation, I felt that peaceful negotiations were imminent and that both sides were on the verge of scheduling a time to meet," he wrote.

Tsang said that it may also have been possible that the administrators were concerned about the safety of students, noting that organizers had posted that white supremacists were attempting to enter Garland Hall on the JHU Sit-In Facebook page shortly before the arrests.

"Nevertheless, I truly wish the sit-in and following occupation could have ended with a conversation and dialogue, not a police operation," he wrote.

Sophomore Class Senator Sam Mollin wrote in an email to The News-Letter that he does not believe that administrators were sincere in wanting to negotiate with students.

"Sending in police makes it seem to me like the University never had any intention to hold good faith negotiations in which they would actually attempt to compromise with the protestors," he wrote. "Based off of this, the protestors were right to refuse the proposed short-notice meeting, and administration was clearly afraid of any actual, even-ground negotiations with students just trying to make their voices heard."

After the arrests, organizers held a press conference at 8:30 a.m. on campus. At the press conference, junior Karter James Burnett said that the arrests were not going to stop students from organizing.

"This rally, this protest and this movement will continue with or without Johns Hopkins' support," Burnett said.

University administrators and members of the JHU Garland Occupation did not respond by the time of publication.

Rachel Juieng contributed reporting. Rudy Malcom has written an Opinions piece on the sit-in. He did not contribute writing or reporting to this piece.

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<![CDATA[University leadership condemns escalation of Garland sit-in]]> Editor's Note: This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Vice Provost for Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger and Vice President for Human Resources Heidi Conway sent a University-wide email addressing the eight student protesters who chained themselves to stairwells in Garland Hall at around 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 2.

Student and community members began the Garland sit-in on April 3 to protest the planned private police force, the bill for which Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law on April 18, and the University's contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

"Yesterday afternoon, the protesters dramatically escalated this situation by blocking ingress to and egress from the building, harassing staff and security officers, chaining the doors of the building closed, and covering security cameras. This escalation interrupted exams for students with disabilities, prevented student workers from being paid, and significantly disrupted financial aid and other vital student services," they wrote. "These actions mean that they are now in contravention not only of university policies, but of state and municipal laws and ordinances as well."

In a recent escalation of tactics, protesters have blocked passage through the building, chained the doors shut and covered security cameras. As a result, students were unable to pick up checks at Student Employment Services or access Student Disability Services (SDS).

Students using SDS for extra exam time would usually take their exams in Garland Hall. Because of the occupation, SDS has relocated to the Center for Health Education and Wellness lounge in Alumni Memorial Residence II, but will still provide testing accommodations.

The administration is attempting to move key student services elsewhere while the sit-in is ongoing. A temporary Student Services Center has been set up in the Wyman Park Building to include staff from the offices of International Services, the Registrar, Student Accounts, Student Employment Services and Undergraduate Research.

Shollenberger and Conway stated that the protesters' blockage of student services was in contravention of state and municipal laws, as well as fire ordinances. In response, the JHU Garland Occupation issued a statement explaining the escalation.

"We are also extremely sensitive to the fact that people with disabilities are more likely to be victims of police brutality by ICE or a potential JHPD. Therefore, we hope that you will support our occupation of Garland Hall," the statement reads.

In another school-wide email sent on Friday at around 2 a.m., University President Ronald J. Daniels expressed his willingness to meet for discussion with members of the JHU Garland Occupation, provided that they evacuate the building and adhere to the University's code of conduct. Protesters have communicated their desire for a meeting with Daniels since the beginning of the sit-in on April 3.

"As I have frequently said, to get a meeting with me, students need not make an occupation, only an appointment. My willingness to meet and to have a constructive discussion is firm and unequivocal. We can meet as soon as this weekend if that is helpful for students in advance of final exams," he wrote. "But before we meet, the students must remove their belongings from Garland, vacate the building, and bring their protest activities back in line with legal requirements and university guidelines."

The JHU Garland Occupation released a media statement in response to Daniels' email at around 8 p.m. on May 4. In it, the protesters allege that the administration called the emergency contacts of the undergraduates involved in the in the sit in and installed cameras around the outside of Garland Hall to monitor activity. It restates the original three demands and adds another demand.

"We demand that you negotiate now and that amnesty for all participants or visitors of the space is assured," it reads.

In an email to The News-Letter, Student Government Association Executive President AJ Tsang wrote that he believes that Hopkins needs an inclusive and trusted platform for faculty, students and administrators to discuss the policy decisions of the University. He also believes that a frank discussion between University leadership and student protesters could be possible at this time.

"Each side seems concerned that the other will drown it out or be disingenuous; but as someone who personally knows both students at and administrators monitoring the sit-in, I can personally say that... everyone believes they're doing what's best for Hopkins," he wrote.

Daniels followed up his Friday email with an email sent at about 7:30 p.m. on May 5. In the email, Daniels proposed a live-streamed meeting at FastForward U for May 6 at 9:30 a.m. and invited any student protesters who have left or are willing to leave the occupation. No student protesters attended the meeting.

"You are welcome to bring members of the student News-Letter with you, and we are happy to support transparency by broadcasting the meeting through university live stream. The meeting can accommodate 30 to 35 students. We would request RSVP to Studentaffairs@jhu.edu. We look forward to having a productive conversation," the email reads.

The protesters responded to Daniels' email at around 5 p.m. on May 6. They explained that the short notice did not allow them sufficient time to respond as a group and requested a 48-hour notice for any invitations to meet.

The protesters also requested academic, professional and legal amnesty for anyone associated with or involved in the sit in; a live transmission of the meeting accessible afterward; a non-Hopkins affiliated, mutually agreed-upon mediator; and a University-wide email announcing the start of negotiations sent by the administration to the Hopkins community as well as the press.

In the email, the protesters indicated that they will continue to occupy the building if negotiations do not prove successful.

"Additionally, we request your assurance that our delegation will be permitted to return to the occupation at the conclusion of the meeting and will not be arrested should negotiations present challenges. Furthermore, we request assurance that individuals who remain at Garland Hall during the meeting will not be confronted by law enforcement," it reads.

Freshman Amal Hayat believes that the protesters' escalation tactics may not ultimately help the causes they are advocating.

"I'm not a big fan of protests, period. When they do things like barge into the alumni breakfast, it makes their argument seem childish," she said. "It's not productive for anyone."

On the other hand, sophomore Sam Mollin supported these tactics in an email to The News-Letter, noting concerns raised by administrators.

"In light of the recent escalation, I remain committed to the pro-sit-in resolution I wrote and passed a few weeks ago," he said. "While some of the temporary consequences outlined in the letter are unfortunate, the fault lies on President Daniels for pushing through a deeply unpopular private police force for two years."

University administrators did not respond by the time of publication. Members of the JHU Garland Occupation declined to comment.

Sophia Lipkin contributed reporting. Rudy Malcom has written an Opinions piece on the sit-in. He did not contribute writing or reporting for this piece.

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<![CDATA[Mayor Catherine Pugh resigns amid corruption investigation]]> Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned on Thursday, May 2 in light of controversy over sales of her children's book series, becoming the second Baltimore mayor this decade to step down amid a criminal investigation. She apologized for the damage she has done to the legitimacy of her office and the face of the city in a statement her attorney Steven Silverman delivered at a news conference.

"Dear citizens of Baltimore, I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve as the 50th mayor. It has been an honor and privilege," Pugh said in the statement. "I'm sorry for the harm that I have caused to the image of the city of Baltimore and the credibility of the office of the mayor. Baltimore deserves a mayor who can move our great city forward."

After a month-long state investigation into her business dealings, Pugh has resigned, effective immediately. On April 1, her office had announced that she would be taking a leave of absence to recover from pneumonia. This statement coincided with a report from The Baltimore Sun detailing that health care company Kaiser Permanente had purchased about 20,000 copies of Pugh's Healthy Holly children's books for $114,000 between 2015 and 2018. During this period, Kaiser Permanente was negotiating with the city's spending panel to provide city employees with health care coverage. According to The Baltimore Sun, Pugh did not abstain from the vote despite the alleged conflict of interest.

The Baltimore Sun also reported that the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), a regional health care system, paid Pugh $500,000 for 100,000 copies of the book. Pugh stepped down from the UMMS board on March 18 after facing backlash over neglecting to fully disclose this deal.

Pugh's resignation follows pleas for her to resign from Baltimore City Council and the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC), a regional organization comprised of University President Ronald J. Daniels and other business and civic leaders. In addition, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan called for her to step down on April 25, hours after Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents raided her house and City Hall offices.

Because of this public outcry, sophomore Political Science major Nicole Kiker was not surprised to learn that Pugh had resigned.

"This was really the only reasonable path for her to take considering calls for her resignation were so widespread and unanimous," she said. "It would have been absolutely wild if she hadn't resigned."

City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, who has been the city's acting mayor since April 1, will succeed her as mayor, per the city's charter. He highlighted his goals as mayor in a public statement on Thursday.

"I have listened to the concerns of our citizens and I will work diligently to address those concerns," he wrote. "Although I understand that this ordeal has caused real pain for many Baltimoreans, I promise that we will emerge more committed than ever to building a stronger Baltimore."

Senior Political Science major Sean Jost hopes that Young will represent the voices of Hopkins students and members of the Baltimore community better than his predecessors, noting Pugh's support for a private police force at Hopkins since 2017.

"Mayor Pugh's resignation is a necessary but not sufficient step towards improving Baltimore politics and the city's relationship with Hopkins," he said. "Hopefully Young can develop a more community-based approach that engages with University politics."

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MARYLAND GOVPICS

Mayor Catherine Pugh stepped down amid scandal over sales of her children's book series.

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<![CDATA[TriBeta poster session features student research]]> Effective communication is one of the hallmarks of scientific research. In light of this, the Rho Psi chapter of the Beta Beta Beta (TriBeta) National Biological Honor Society hosted a poster session on Friday. Students majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Hopkins had the opportunity to present their research to their peers.

The student researchers presented independent research projects. The News-Letter had the opportunity to speak with some of the presenters. One of the presenters, senior John Kim, joined Gabsang Lee's lab in the School of Medicine during his freshman year. He spent his first couple of semesters learning techniques which he eventually used when pursuing his own project. He has since been involved with multiple projects, presenting one of his newer ones at the TriBeta session.

Often, researchers publish articles in journals and present at seminars which have audiences with an extensive scientific background. Sophomore Mickey Sloat noted that a poster session is one way to make science more accessible to the public, and there were people with a range of knowledge in attendance.

However, describing a research project to a layperson with a fleeting scientific background may prove a challenge for researchers. Distilling a scientific project while avoiding over-simplification is a skill that comes with practice.

On the other hand, discussing a project with students who understand the scientific background of the project has its perks. Sloat said that some students recognized elements of her research from their classes.

"It is cool to see that what we are learning directly interacts and intersects with what we are studying," Sloat said.

Junior Hanna Hong, vice president of TriBeta, presented a project that she has been researching since sophomore year. One of her motivations to present was to fulfill a requirement to graduate with honors, as students who want to earn a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology with honors have to present their independent research as a part of a seminar or poster session.

"I wanted to present my research not only because it is one of the requirements for an honors in the Biology major, but also because I did really want to show the work that I've been doing," Hong said.

Another presenter, junior Sweta Sudhir, recently spoke about her project at the American Association for Cancer Research's annual conference. She wanted to present at the TriBeta session to connect with other Hopkins students.

"The Hopkins community fostered my research and propelled me on that path, so I wanted to see what my peers are doing around here and share my excitement for my research," Sudhir said. "This was the perfect opportunity to do that."

Unlike seminars or talks, poster sessions provide a unique space for discussion between a researcher and their audience. In some instances, it is a chance for the researchers to receive suggestions from their audience, which was the case for Sloat.

"I came partly to start a dialogue because I am at a stalling point on my research and I've got to get over a hurdle so I'm hoping people can help me," Sloat said.

"I've presented [my research] at a different session and it helped me to clarify what the problem is."

Michelle Chiu, co-president of the chapter who helped to organize the event, was pleased with the outcome.

"It was an enjoyable event to host and we are super glad that students, both in TriBeta and out, were able to attend and listen to the amazing poster presentations," Chiu said.

The TriBeta poster session is one of many sessions organized at Hopkins. Most science and social science departments, as well as many honor societies, host poster sessions throughout the semester. On April 5, the Hopkins Office for Undergraduate Research (HOUR) hosted DREAMS, which is one of the largest poster sessions on campus.

Discoveries are happening all over the Hopkins campus, and many undergraduates are involved in research work. Those who want to catch a last glimpse of some research projects before the summer can attend the first annual student poster session on Diversity & Inclusion hosted by the Diversity Leadership Council on May 15.

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<![CDATA[Hopkins holds sustainability hackathon]]> GreenHacks hosted the first sustainability hackathon at Hopkins on April 20. The hackathon was held at FastForward U, a collaborative space dedicated to empowering student entrepreneurs across disciplines.

Just minutes away from the Homewood Campus, it was a bright, bustling venue for innovators to come together and discuss sustainability issues that affect the Hopkins campuses.

The theme of GreenHacks can appropriately be described as the unification of disciplines. GreenHacks welcomed students and speakers from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Whiting School of Engineering, the Bloomberg School of Public Health and other Hopkins-affiliated schools. The event attendees included 35 hackers, five staff members, four judges and three presenters.

Junior Thomas Howard, a member of the GreenHacks leadership team, explained how the event came together in just over a month.

It all started when he and Kim Zou, one of Howard's classmates, were discussing entrepreneurial opportunities in their Sustainable Living class. They both agreed that it would be valuable to hold a hackathon that tackles some of the issues they discussed in class.

But they encountered a problem when they searched for other sustainability hackathons to use as a model.

"We looked online and saw that there wasn't really a large number of sustainability hackathons, especially when you compare it to the number of technology or computer science focused ones," Howard said in an interview with The News-Letter.

Luckily a team member had a contact at Harvard University who had successfully orchestrated a hackathon similar to the one that they had in mind.

The GreenHacks team also contacted faculty members and staff in the Office of Sustainability. Two of the mentors are Jason Mathias, the strategic initiative coordinator at the Office of Sustainability and Scot Miller, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering.

"We started reaching out to different people and different departments and presenting this idea that we would have an event where we could bring together people from different backgrounds … to accelerate the conversation around sustainability," Howard said.

In between hacking, several leaders in the field of sustainability spoke to attendees to help them put together their final proposals.

They explained how several college campuses, including Stanford, Harvard and the University of Washington, have attempted to promote sustainable practices.

For example, in an attempt to call attention to waste issues at Harvard's undergraduate campus, students gathered trash from all the residence halls into a pile at a center point on campus.

Some especially brave students would then conduct "trash audits" and sift through the trash to determine what could have been recycled. This incredibly visual approach was used to inform on-campus residents about the importance of recycling.

Collin Weigel, a Nature Conservancy Postdoctoral Fellow in Behavioral Economics here at Hopkins, also took part in the event. He described the unintended consequences of providing incentives to encourage sustainability.

He gave the example of how the introduction of low flow faucets made it seem like users were reducing their water usage. In reality, those faucets caused a net gain in water usage because the users tended to take more time to wash dishes and take longer showers.

With these tips in mind, hackers had to design presentations in the four and a half hours they were provided.

The projects included inventive ideas for making better use of items discarded on move out days, making energy use data more transparent, building more green spaces for students and engineering sustainable plastics. One of the teams was Blue Jay Boxes. It consisted of freshmen Erika Wong, Maggie Smith, Mitchell Kleckner, Amanda Hinton and Preethi Kaliappan. They presented an idea to implement reusable to go boxes at the Fresh Food Cafe (FFC).

"The blue jay boxes are a system similar to the takeout boxes we have at the FFC, except that instead of being disposable they are reusable." Wong said in an interview with The News-Letter. "This would reduce our waste and it would also help implement a sustainable state of mind within the Hopkins community."

Kaliappan also pointed out that while the current boxes are compostable, they don't always end up in the appropriate receptacles.

"Sometimes if you look into incinerator trash bin there are compostable boxes in there, so this incentivizes students to not direct their trash there," Kaliappan said.

After each presentation, judges gave feedback on how ideas could be improved or expanded. The winning team, Democratizing Data for Sustainability, proposed a solution to on how to make recycling and energy data more accessible.

Overall the large turnout and well-researched proposals at the event made it a success.

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<![CDATA[Research shows children also judge on facial features]]> If a child you just met is not particularly nice to you, it may not be your fault. A recent psychological study from the American Psychological Association has provided evidence that young children tend to make snap character judgments based on physical features, showing that a judgmental nature may be more inherent in humans than previously believed.

For centuries the consensus of the scientific community has held that adults tend to judge others based on certain character features; for instance, large eyes tend to be associated with innocence and dominance is assumed based on certain cheekbone structures.

However, while it had been previously believed that the habit of making these associations developed with age, recent findings have shown that children as young as three may make these judgments as well, and for children as young as five, these judgments can affect their actions and behaviors towards others.

In the study, researchers conducted four experiments, each with about 350 children aged three to 13, and used samples of adult participants for comparison. The researchers tried to determine if certain behaviors would be associated with different facial features.

Participants were shown different computer-generated faces, each created to have the facial features of people typically perceived as mean, nice, trustworthy, innocent, or some other characteristic.

The participants were asked questions about the faces they were shown, including which character seemed the nicest or which character would be most likely to do certain activities. With this, the researchers found that both the adults and children made the stereotypical judgments about 88 percent of the time. Unsurprisingly the older the participant was, the more likely they were to make the predicted stereotypical judgment.

In another set of experiments, the researchers tested how these judgments would affect the children's behavior. In this case the children were given two faces, either one with stereotypically trustworthy and one with untrustworthy features, or one with submissive and one with dominant features, and were asked which character they were more likely to give a gift to.

They found that children over the age of five were more likely to bestow the gift upon the person with more trustworthy or submissive features. The researchers hypothesize that this may be because it may take an extra couple of years for children to develop the life experience to make more complex decisions about their own behavior.

Co-author of the study Mahzarin R. Banaji from Harvard University explained in an interview with ScienceDaily that this finding is extremely important in understanding human tendency for judgment.

"We have a misguided notion that children are empty vessels into which culture slowly pours itself as they mature," Banaji said.

"What this study uniquely shows is that these inaccuracies don't just sit around in a child's head, they manifest in the child's behavior toward others who are viewed as good or bad based on features of the face that are irrelevant to decisions about character and personality."

In addition, this research on human snap judgments is important because impressions of facial features, which are quite often false, can have a real impact on world events and decisions.

In an interview with LiveScience, Tom Hartley, a cognitive neuroscientist and psychologist at the University of York, explained how judgments based on appearance affect the real world.

"It's useful to know how we're being judged on our appearance, especially since these judgments might not be accurate," Hartley said. "Think of the effects on court cases or democratic elections, for example."

Human behavior has evolved over time and is heavily guided by supposed gut reaction judgments. Based on these new findings, one should not feel hurt the next time a child does not like them upon first encounter.

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<![CDATA[Senior Woodrow Wilson Fellows present their original research]]> Senior Woodrow Wilson Fellows presented their independent research projects to the Hopkins community on Thursday, April 25. The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Program provides undergraduates with financial support and faculty mentoring on research over the course of three or four years. Students apply to the program as incoming students or rising sophomores by submitting a project proposal and they work on their projects during the entirety of their Hopkins careers.

The event began with two keynote presentations, given by seniors Grace Duan and Shahmir Ali, and an original film screening by senior Giovanna Molina. Duan, Ali and Molina fielded questions from the audience on their projects, and a poster session followed.

Duan presented on her work understanding the connection between the Tau protein, sleep and Alzheimer's disease. Duan experimented with flies because 60 percent of their genome is shared with humans, they sleep and they are easy to handle and manipulate.

Ali's work focused on developing and testing a curriculum to improve understanding and interest in issues of water quality and sanitation in Pakistan. Ali explained that these issues are of particular concern in Pakistan in part because of a need for innovation in solving these issues within the country. His intervention curriculum was tested at a secondary school in Lahore, Pakistan.

Molina's film, Chasing Eden, illustrated what it is like to meet someone and feel like you already know them. Molina explained that she had visualized many of the images that were captured in her film in her head for a while before production. It was filmed in multiple locations around Maryland, and featured recurring motifs, such as water and flowers.

Fellows conduct research in a variety of fields based on their personal interests. This year projects covered a range of topics including neuroscience, public health, music history and international relations.

Following the presentations, The News-Letter had the opportunity to speak with some of the fellows.

Duan explained how she learned about the link between sleep and Alzheimer's during high school, and wanted to explore this further at Hopkins.

"During my senior year I did an independent study on the history of Neuroscience and technology," Duan said.

"One of the most interesting things I learned ... was the fact that poor sleep was linked to Alzheimer's disease, and that has stuck with me for a really long time."

Duan expressed that conducting research has helped her to develop both personally and professionally.

"I think it's made me a better scientist, a better critical thinker, a better student and a better future physician to learn about how scientific knowledge comes about," Duan said.

Senior public health and neuroscience major Kushi Ranganath developed a digital simulation of corner stores in order to understand interventions that could help curb obesity in the food deserts of Baltimore City. She explained that her work was inspired by her experiences as a freshman exploring Baltimore and realizing how many corner stores and how few grocery stores there were.

"When I started school here at Hopkins, I almost immediately discovered just how much of a food desert Baltimore is," Ranganath said. "If you go out in certain neighborhoods, all you'll see is the really small corner stores … predominantly selling unhealthy foods."

Ranganath's research found that just levying a tax on junk food is not necessarily effective at promoting healthy food purchasing decisions. Other solutions she tested, in particular coupling a junk food tax with incentives to purchase healthy foods, were more effective at encouraging consumers to make healthy decisions.

"These results are showing us that a junk food tax alone doesn't seem to be the right solution," Ranganath said. "We can't just make unhealthy foods more expensive without giving people more affordable alternatives."

Duan encouraged students to get involved with research if they have a passion for creating new knowledge, as it significantly impacted her own college experience.

"It's so great seeing other people interested in my project and the work that I've done," Duan said. "To create a product at the end of your four years at Hopkins, it's really quite special."

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<![CDATA[Baseball clinches home-field for Centennial tournament]]> Coming into this weekend, the Hopkins baseball team sat at the top of the Centennial Conference standings. They were up by two games over second-place Franklin and Marshall College (F&M) Diplomats with a doubleheader against the Diplomats Saturday after Friday's game against Swarthmore College was postponed.

All the Blue Jays had to do was win one of the two games they had against F&M in order to secure the regular season Conference title and earn the rights to host the Conference Tournament.

The first game started out quietly, with neither team getting a hit in the first inning. That would turn out to be a rarity, as there would be runs scored in every inning thereafter until the eighth.

In the second and third innings the Diplomats took advantage of their leadoff hitters getting on via a hit-by-pitch and walk, respectively. Both were issued by the Blue Jays starting pitcher, freshman Matthew Dillard, and put F&M up 2-0 heading into the bottom of the third.

Hopkins opened up their scoring in typical fashion, with a home run from senior outfielder Tim Kutcher.

They continued the scoring in the inning by taking advantage of a two-out error by the Diplomats' second baseman to add on two unearned runs and take the lead at 3-2.

The Blue Jays could not hold the lead for long, however, as the Diplomats tied the game up in the top of the fourth with a solo home run.

Hopkins was able to retake the lead in the bottom of the inning, however, as two walks and a wild pitch set up junior shortstop Mike Eberle to drive in sophomore second baseman Mark Lopez, the go-ahead run, with a ground ball.

The scoring onslaught would not stop there though, as the Diplomats retook the lead with a two-run home run in the top of the fifth.

F&M was able to stop the back-and-forth scoring in the bottom of the fifth, at which point they took control of the game.

They added three insurance runs in the top of the sixth to take an 8-4 lead.

The Blue Jays were able to scrape across one run in the seventh, but the Diplomats shut the door on any comeback hopes by scoring six runs in the top of the ninth.

The Diplomats won the game 14-7, but would have to win again if they wanted a chance to steal home field from the Jays in the Conference tournament.

Those hopes were dashed very quickly, as the Blue Jays put their foot down in the second game. Senior starting pitcher Sean McCracken set the tone early and often, as he surrendered only two hits over the course of his seven innings, and none after the third inning.

No Blue Jay pitcher faced more than four batters in an inning, and no Diplomat made it to third base in the game. McCracken explained how he was able to be so successful against the Diplomats.

"I really didn't do anything different than my other starts, except a lot more of my pitches were right around the plate instead of over it, and it allowed me to get weak contact," he said.

The Blue Jays offense also set the tone early, scoring twice in the bottom of the second on a bases-loaded single by Eberle. Their big inning, however, came in the bottom of the third, where they started the inning with four straight hits, including a two-run home run by graduate rightfielder Chris DeGiacomo. Those four hits chased the F&M starter, but the reliever was not able to get an out either.

Freshman catcher James Ingram was the first to face the reliever, and put a sacrifice bunt down that was mishandled by the pitcher, allowing everyone to reach base safely.

Back-to-back bases loaded hit by pitches and a single by junior centerfielder Chris Festa would push the score to 9-0 and meant a new relief pitcher for the Diplomats. Junior first baseman Nate Davis struck out, and DeGiacomo popped out, but then things fell apart once again for the Diplomats, who walked the next five Blue Jays as they added four more runs in the inning, which put the inning total to 11 runs.

When the inning finally ended the score was 13-0, and the Diplomats had lost nearly all hope.

The Blue Jays added two more runs in the fourth, and the game was closed out by senior pitcher David Glass, who faced the minimum over his two innings.

With the win, the Blue Jays were guaranteed to host the Conference Tournament. McCracken talked about how important it is to be the hosts of the Tournament.

"It's absolutely enormous. We are definitely a better team at home," he said.

Even though their fate was sealed, Hopkins had one more game on Monday against the Swarthmore College Garnet.

The Blue Jays went with pitcher by committee, trying to keep all their pitchers fresh heading into the Conference Tournament.

They used eight different pitchers, and no pitcher threw more than 36 pitches or 2.1 innings. A four-run fourth inning for the Garnet would end up being the difference in the contest, as they went on to pull out the victory 7-3.

The joy of the win for the Garnet was not long-lived, however, as the Muhlenberg College Mules beat the Dickinson College Red Devils on the same day to clinch the fourth seed in the Conference Tournament, eliminating Swarthmore from a chance to defend their Conference Championship from last season. The Blue Jays head into the Conference tournament leading the nation in home runs and home runs per game, at 64 and 1.68, respectively. They also have Jack Bunting, who is tied for the most wins in the country with 10.

The Blue Jays offense has been nearly unstoppable in Conference play, as they are averaging 10.5 runs per game in those 18 games, by far top in the Conference. McCracken elaborated on what the biggest keys will be for the Blue Jays to be successful in the tournament.

"Our biggest key will be how we play under pressure and how clutch we are. If we get some clutch plays we can go all the way," he added.

The Conference Tournament will start for the Jays with a game Thursday at 3 p.m. against Muhlenberg on Babb Field.

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<![CDATA[AOTW: Pangalozzi]]> Hopkins Men's and Women's Track and Field competed in their final meet of the regular season before the Centennial Conference Championship at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia this weekend. Both teams brought their best to the meet; many athletes posted personal bests. Sophomore distance runner Jared Pangallozzi is just one example. Pangallozzi spoke with The News-Letter about his achievements and what it took to make them happen.


The News-Letter: Your new time in the 10k (30:40.02) is the second fastest in program history. How does that achievement make you feel?

Jared Pangallozzi: The progression that I've had from my freshman year cross country season to now has been something that I'm really proud of and so thankful for. It's been an incredible experience to be part of this program, and to say that I have the second fastest time in program history when so many great athletes have come through this program is a huge honor.


N-L: How did you get to where you are right now, in terms of your development overall, your new career best and who helped you get there?

JP: As I've adjusted to the larger amounts of weekly mileage that I've done over the past few years, I've seen my times drop, especially for the longer distances. [Coach Bobby Van Allen] has made sure that my progression has been smooth and gradual in order to avoid injury, while making sure I have those jumps in times that we're both looking for. It's really just a group effort, from talking with and getting inspiration from my teammates, to doing strength training given to us by our strengthening coach, Ryan [Carr], to talking with Bobby and/or our assistant coaches, Maura [Linde] and [Shedrick Elliott III], whenever I feel stuck with how my progression has been going. This season, like every season, is the sum of all of those parts.

N-L: You're ranked in the top ten in the country and have already punched your ticket to the NCAA tournament. What's your mindset or focus looking ahead?

JP: For the next few weeks, I just want to focus on recovering well from the workouts I'm doing and making sure that my confidence and excitement only builds as I get closer to nationals. While I have specific goals for how I want to place when I get there, I know that anything can happen on race day, good or bad, and I want to focus on doing the small stuff that will put me in the best position when I step on the line.

N-L: You're still only halfway through your Hopkins career. How do you think your growth this year will impact your training and performance in the upcoming seasons?

JP: I like to remind myself that nothing is ever given from year to year; while I'm proud of how I've progressed up until this point, injuries are so common, and being sick is always a possibility, so there are so many things that can slow down progress if you aren't careful. Going forward, my goals will certainly be higher, and Bobby will make sure that my training progresses in a safe way, but I want to always be conscious of when I may be pushing myself too hard to the point of injury.


N-L: What are you most grateful for this season and why?

JP: As always, I'm grateful to my teammates for being so supportive, especially to the seniors who have contributed so much to the culture of the program and who I will miss very much!

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<![CDATA[There's more to a legacy than just championships]]>

Why is it that now, more than ever, National Basketball Association (NBA) players are forced by the media to be overly concerned about their legacies? This doesn't necessarily result from the media questioning the players directly during interviews; rather, it's the consequence of legacies being such a hot topic amongst NBA analysts on television, Twitter and other forms of media and the need to fill the 24/7 sports talk and news cycle.

What is the purpose of a 24-year-old NBA player having to focus on how he'll be remembered? For many of these rising superstars, that would require them to think 10+ years down the road, when they should be enjoying the present, developing their games and doing everything they can to help their teams win. Many 24-year-olds who aren't in the public eye have no idea what they'll be doing in the next year, so why should their peers be expected to define their futures before they even have a chance to live them?

As it relates to players' legacies, the media obsesses over the number of championships players have won in order to justify the value of those players' careers, even more so than focusing on their individual talents. This is not a recent development - it was certainly the focal point of discussions following LeBron's decision to sign with Miami, especially after he let the fans know how many rings he expected to win at his Miami Heat welcome party.

Hall of Famer Charles Barkley didn't win any championships, as Shaquille O'Neal constantly reminds him on Inside the NBA. When we think about Barkley's legacy as a player, we should think about how talented he was on the court for all those years, not that he couldn't overcome Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. This is the same fate that befell Wilt Chamberlain for his "failure" to beat Bill Russell's Boston Celtics so many times. Yet if you look at Chamberlain's statistics, they are astounding.

Would LeBron James ever have signed with the Heat had championships not become such an obsession of ESPN's? Would Kevin Durant have left the Thunder for the Warriors had the media not harped on him about his legacy day after day?

There are too many external factors that are out of an individual player's control for a career's worth to be measured by the number of rings won. Basketball is a team sport, and as talented as LeBron, Giannis Antetokounmpo and other superstars are, they can't win championships all by themselves.

You can't guarantee the effort levels your teammates put into every play throughout a playoff series. You can't ensure that players are going to perform under that level of pressure. You can't guard everyone on the opposing team when you're on defense, and it's likely that you're not going to outscore the opposing team by yourself.

LeBron led his team to the NBA Finals for eight consecutive years prior to this season. Though the feat is impressive, many would argue that it was possible due to a lack of talent in the Eastern Conference as much as it was LeBron's surplus of talent.

While I believe individual players can dominate games in the NBA more easily than in any other Big Four sport, winning a championship requires too much of a team effort for the value of individuals' careers to be measured by rings.

The emphasis the media places on championships is in part what drives players to form super-teams in pursuit of these championships. The irony is that this takes away from the value of these championships, as we saw with Kevin Durant, who joined an already-established title contender.

The media cannot only take championships into account when evaluating a player's legacy - they have to go about it with a more holistic approach that includes that player's stats, supporting casts, ability to perform in the playoffs and much more. Perhaps the media should let the players play and enjoy their careers without forcing them to think about how they'll be remembered.

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<![CDATA[BME student team creates device to make at-home dialysis safer]]> Of the 660,000 Americans receiving treatment for kidney failure, 468,000 are undergoing dialysis. Now a team of engineers at Hopkins have developed a device that reduces the risk of infection in at-home dialysis. Their work will make it even more efficient for patients to perform dialysis at their own convenience.

Dialysis has three main functions: to remove waste, salt and extra water from building up in the body; to keep steady levels of potassium, sodium and bicarbonate in the blood; and to help control blood pressure.

These functions are usually covered by healthy kidneys, but when an individual develops end-stage kidney failure, losing 85 to 90 percent of their kidney function, dialysis is the answer.

There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. For hemodialysis, an artificial kidney known as a hemodialyzer is employed to perform all the functions of a regular kidney. This method typically involves a minor surgery to the arm or leg.

Peritoneal dialysis is where the blood is cleaned inside the body via a surgery that puts a catheter into the abdomen so that the abdominal area, also known as the peritoneal cavity, gets filled with dialysate that draws out the extra fluid and waste products in the blood.

Dialysis may be conveniently done at home, but because the procedure is administered by the patients themselves, there is a high risk of contamination during the treatment setup.

The infection, peritonitis, would then require hospitalization 60 percent of the time and is the primary factor in one in six peritoneal dialysis patient deaths. The infection occurs in one in four patients, so it is an epidemic that should receive a considerable amount of attention.

This is the problem that Dr. Alicia Neu, a professor of pediatrics at Hopkins Hospital introduced to a team of biomedical engineering undergraduates.

Sarah Lee, the leader of the team, explained in an interview with The News-Letter how they were intrigued by the problem.

"Our team thought it seemed like a clear unmet need that could allow us to have a significant potential impact," Lee said.

Lee and her fellow team members Anna Bailey, Tejasvi Desai, Giang Hoang, Eugene Oh and James Qin founded Relavo, a company aiming to develop a device to reduce the risk for contamination during peritoneal dialysis treatments. The result was PeritoneX - an affordable, disposable device that works to disinfect the contamination points for a dialysis treatment.

The team has been on a winning streak with PeritoneX. At Texas Christian University's Richards Barrentine Values and Ventures Competition, Lee, Bailey and Desai won an honorable mention recognition as well as a cash prize of $2,500. They also won $1,000 from Intuit Education for the best financial forecast.

They were also the recipients of the $10,000 Summer Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Award and another $10,000 grant from FastForward U's Ralph S. O'Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund. These cash prizes are both a part of the Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, which is the licensing, patent and technology commercialization office that aims to guide emerging startups inside and outside Hopkins.

Bailey believes that winning has generated momentum and morale.

"It's been surreal. I've always known we could be successful, but the grants that we've gotten so far have really served to boost our confidence and our dedication to the project," Bailey said. "Our device could have a huge potential impact once it makes it to market. Having that validated really adds to our momentum."

Lee explained how the funds help move PeritoneX one step closer to reality by taking away some financial constraints. The Relavo team has their sights set on bigger and better things in the near future - namely larger regional and national grant programs this year.

Another barrier to product development has been finding time to dedicate to the project. The team has to juggle their coursework and other activities.

"We are still in the product development phase, but one of the biggest challenges we've had is time - all of us are so passionate about this project, but it's hard to put as many hours as we want into this while still maintaining full course loads. It can be hard to keep momentum going when everyone is busy with midterms and problem sets," Lee said.

After the semester is over, however, the group will have more time to dedicate to the project. They believe that they will be able to make larger strides towards the final product during this time.

"We're especially excited for the summer - this will give us a solid chunk of continuous time to devote to the project," Lee said.

The team plans to complete product development by the end of the summer so that they will have mature prototypes next year. Then they will begin verification testing to eventually submit to the Food and Drug Administration for 510(k) market clearance.

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<![CDATA[It's time for the Athletics culture to change now ]]>

A lot - to say the least - has happened since August 10, 2018. And ever since, I've wanted to speak up. Every week I've told myself, "This is the week I'm going to publish my reflection." And every week, I cowered. I was afraid people would use my words against me, and I have no doubt that they still will.

The one week I finally mustered the courage to tell a few of my peers about my reflection, I was shamed for even thinking about writing it. I, the volleyball player who isn't afraid to dive into bleachers, run into walls and jump over tables to keep the ball from dropping, was overcome by fear.

So what makes this week any different? Nothing too thrilling, really. There was no life-changing incident, no moment of epiphany. Instead, it was a long-fought battle of rediscovering my fire.

It's taken many anxious nights of violently waking up from nightmares in tears or out of breath, but now I can say that I am finally ready. Let's talk about how the Hopkins Athletic Department silenced me.

I share my experiences not to complain, but to hold the Athletic Department accountable.

I share my experiences not to ask for sympathy, but to ensure that no current or future Blue Jay is subjected to the senior season I had. I share my experiences not to stoop down, but to rise above.

This isn't about getting even. This isn't about disproving any rumors going around. This isn't about defending my former coach Tim Cole.

This is about sharing my narrative - something that no one can strip away from me.

Strike One: The Investigation:

On Aug. 10, 2018, the volleyball team received an email announcing Tim's administrative leave. Four days later, the Athletic Department called in a team meeting to address the situation.

The meeting didn't clarify any concerns I had, as the Athletic Department administrators failed to adequately answer my questions. Instead, they demanded that we not "recollect memories with other people" in order to preserve the integrity of what was to become a full-fledged investigation.

They told us we were not allowed to speak about our experiences on the team - positive or negative - with those outside the program or even amongst ourselves. We weren't allowed to talk about the early mornings in the gym that made me tougher. We weren't allowed to talk about post-rally celebrations that filled me up with joy. I was not allowed to "recollect" any of them. My mouth was forced shut.

Worse, however, was what happened next.

Rumors started circulating, but I tried my best to shut out the noise. It wasn't worth my time, and we had a National Championship to win. Over time, though, I realized that my words were losing gravity.

My voice was being muted. I spent years being subjected to the label of "the quiet Asian girl," years trying to break out of suffocating stereotypes, years telling myself my words have worth, years forcing myself to be comfortable hearing my own voice.

The effort I put into becoming a strong young woman unafraid of speaking up and speaking out - the accomplishment I hold onto with the most self-love and pride ­- was uncontrollably slipping through my fingers. And it wasn't because I grew any less fearless.

It was because to many others my voice was assumed to be tainted with bias. I stopped being able to stand up for my self-worth or my personal narrative because to them, my voice was no longer worthy of being given a chance.

Still, I understood that I had no other choice but to adhere to the Athletic Department's protocol because any false step, they said, would impact the investigation.

What I didn't understand was why some people, especially those who held no position in the team, were allowed to slide by the rules when my every move was being monitored by administrators.

Why did administrators turn a blind eye when these people "recollected" their memories but gave me a slap on the wrist for doing the same?

I am not by any means against people speaking up. The power of speech is not just empowering, but necessary. We need voices to be heard and conflicts to be had, but not when the conversation is controlled through selective silencing.

When I voiced this concern to the administration, they responded by saying there was nothing they could do.

Strike Two: The NCAA Compliance Meeting

On Dec. 3, 2018, another team meeting was called, this time to inform us that we were violating the "new interpretation" of the NCAA Division III rules by calling out-of-season practices "captain's practices" instead of "voluntary workouts" and having recovery yoga sessions on the weekends. Just another slap on the wrist by administrators, what's new? Although frustrating, this wasn't the glaring issue. At the end of the meeting, we were asked if we had any general questions or concerns. My classmate, Sasha Gorelik, confidently raised her hand and proceeded to recount an incident, one that immediately brought me disgust.

After the season ended in December, when we were allowed to contact Tim for the first time since mid-August, a group of us decided to catch up with him. It was the least we could do for our coach, let alone our friend. Soon after, Sasha heard that Athletic Department staff members were outwardly ridiculing us for contacting our former coach. Working adults employed by this University were shaming us as 18-to-21-year-old women for making a decision that affected no one but ourselves.

Why do staff members have the power to judge whether my actions outside the Athletic Department are right or wrong? Why do staff members have the power to make belittling statements about me? And how is this acceptable? How is this the "work culture" that has been fostered throughout the Athletic Department?

Sasha said it best, "Staff engaging in trash talking the team is childish, disgusting and unacceptable. I don't know how this is being overlooked and allowed. I am being demonized from every direction."

One of the administrators responded, "That's unfortunate."

The Athletic Department creates an illusion of listening to athletes by meeting with team captains and asking team members to fill out end-of-season surveys. However, little is ever done to address our concerns. This façade persists because frankly, it looks bad to exclude our voices. It looks bad to make decisions or end conversations without extending the opportunity for our feedback to seem as if it is being heard.

It's unacceptable that employees are shaming us. It's even more unacceptable that when we speak up, all we get are two meaningless words: "That's unfortunate."

Strike Three: TBD

For the baseball enthusiast or amateur baseball fan, like myself, you know that three strikes means you're out. The Athletic Department is currently two strikes in, and I write this to stop it from swinging at the third and final strike. No more selective silencing, no more façade of consideration, and most importantly, no more devaluing our voices.

Am I going to face retaliation for writing this? No doubt - life isn't fair, and it's definitely not easy. But at least I get to go to bed knowing that my pent-up thoughts are no longer hanging over me. And despite the tearful breakdowns and recurring nightmares, I am still eternally grateful. Grateful for the three untouched, blissful years of the Hopkins volleyball I fell in love with. Grateful for the fourth year of adversity that gave me a new layer of resilience. Grateful for the people - you know who you are ­- who stood tall beside me. Grateful for the opportunity to find my voice all over again.

And to those who are also being silenced by not just the Athletic Department but by any other subjugating institution, I hope my narrative can serve as an extra drop of fuel to encourage you to speak up because in the end, only you can control how you feel and what you do. Whether or not my reflection instigates change within the Athletic Department, we must all rise above victimhood and run into the fire head-on. That's what makes us champions.

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<![CDATA[M. & W. Tennis take final Centennial matches]]> Last Saturday, the men's and women's tennis team had their final matchups before the Centennial Conference tournament this upcoming weekend. The men's team hosted a doubleheader in Baltimore, facing off against the Dickinson College Red Devils and the Mary Washington University Eagles, while the women's team traveled to face the Washington College Shorewomen.

The men's team started off their slate against the Red Devils. The match started off on the right foot as the pairing of sophomore Alex Matisse and senior Colin Muraika made quick work of their opponents, taking the third doubles match 8-1. The hot start continued as the partnership of junior Aaron Carey and senior Scott Thygesen won their match 8-4, allowing the Jays to hop out to a quick 2-0 lead.

The Red Devils would steal a win in the second doubles pairing matchup, bringing the total match score to 2-1. That would be the only success Dickinson saw though.

Sophomore Matt Lurie defeated his opponent 6-0, 6-2 in the fourth singles match, allowing the team to regain their footing after dropping the last doubles match. Freshman Brian Wang kept the momentum going in the third singles match, winning 6-3, 6-3. Fellow freshman Naevin Anukornchaikul kept the success going in the second singles match, winning 6-3, 6-1.

There seemed to be no stopping the Jays against their Centennial foe, as sophomore Robby Simon also won his matchup in the sixth singles match by the score of 6-4, 6-3. Freshman Eric Burrer also carried the freight for the team, going the distance with his opponent in the fifth singles match, winning 6-3, 4-6, 1-0 (10-8). Sophomore Eric Yoo completed the singles sweep in the first singles match, completing a stellar comeback, winning 0-6, 6-2, 6-4.

The matchup against the no. 15-ranked Mary Washington was tightly contested, with Hopkins taking two of the three doubles pairings to begin the match. However, the early advantage faded, as Mary Washington would end up winning the match 5-4.

The win against Dickinson allowed the Jays to complete a perfect Centennial Conference season, finishing 9-0. They will host the conference tournament this upcoming Saturday.

The women's team got off to a hot start as the pairing of sophomore Anjali Kashyap and junior Sophia Strickland as they shut out their opponent, winning 8-0 in the first doubles match. The freshmen pairing of Sophie Saland and Lillian Oliver kept the ball rolling, winning the third doubles match 8-3. The partnership of freshman Jessica Liang and Amanda Ruci completed the doubles sweep, taking their match by the score of 8-2.

Strickland gave insight into what it felt like to go up 3-0 after the doubles matches.

"Going up 3-0 takes a lot of pressure off the singles matches and allows people to play a bit freer," she said.

It was smooth sailing from that point on, as the Jays won every singles match, with only one of the matches going to three sets. Ruci controlled her match at fourth singles as she only dropped one game. Strickland clinched the match win at second singles with a 6-2, 6-2 victory. Kashyap then dominated the first singles match, winning 6-1, 6-1.

Liang then completed a thrilling comeback at the third singles match after dropping the first set. Unsullied, she came all the way back, winning 1-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-8). Oliver put together another dominating performance, completely shutting out her opponent at the sixth singles match. Saland closed out the match with a 6-2, 7-5 victory at the fifth singles match.

With this win, the Jays completed their 13th straight undefeated season in Centennial Conference play.

Strickland shared what the mentality was for the undefeated conference play and what the outlook is for the tournament.

"We had to make sure not to take it for granted and still take every match seriously because teams can surprise you," she said. "I have a lot of confidence in this team to win again this weekend."

The Jays host the Centennial Conference Tournament this upcoming Saturday, awaiting the winner between Gettysburg and Franklin & Marshall.

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<![CDATA[Law Review brings together pre-law community]]> The Johns Hopkins Undergraduate Law Review hosted the first Law Review Gala this Monday. The event featured William H. "Billy" Murphy Jr., a civil rights lawyer and former judge who represented the family of Freddie Gray, and Christina Bostick, the civil rights lawyer who represented the family of Henrietta Lacks.

The Gala was open to all Hopkins undergraduates, although it was aimed at the pre-law community.

Junior Kiana Boroumand, editor-in-chief and founder of the Law Review, explained that they had selected speakers with roots in the Baltimore community.

Sophomore Hannah Stone, the director of programming for the Law Review, added that both speakers explored the intersection of law and science.

"I thought that they could provide an interesting perspective ... for some people who were more interested in STEM to get a perspective into law and potential ways they could apply it," she said.

Murphy and Bostick spoke about the factors that drove them to pursue legal careers. Murphy grew up during the Civil Rights movement within an actively political family.

"That's the household I grew up in. How could I turn out any other way than I did? Politics every day, every night. On the polls, all the time. That's why I represented the Freddie Gray family," he said.

Bostick grew up in a family of scholars, and her pursuit of law originated from her passion for providing a platform for the underrepresented. She described some of the challenges she faced in her education.

"I was not denied entry into the room but was forced to legitimize my presence there as my colleagues assumed that my accolades were more the result of affirmative action than derived from hard work," Bostick said.

When asked about the difficulties of the court system and the pursuit of justice inside of the legal profession, Murphy talked about leaders getting involved outside the legal system.

"Lawyers also should be involved as candidates for elected office. Lawyers need to be involved in public interest organizations," Murphy said. "There are so many things lawyers can do outside of a courtroom ... You can lobby within the profession."

Bostick advocated for increasing the representation of women and minorities within the field.

Students felt that the event was a good start into increasing the presence of the pre-law community at Hopkins. Senior AJ Tsang said that this would be possible with the leadership of the student organizers.

"I'd love to see more events like these," he said. "I think it's amazing that [Boroumand], Anthony [Boutros] and so many others have brought together so many passionate individuals to create what is, in many ways, the first true pre-law student organization on campus."

Senior Ryan Najmi said that there was a much larger pre-medical presence on Hopkins campus and that events like the Gala could encourage more students to consider law sooner in their Hopkins careers.

"I think there's this tendency for people who come to Hopkins to be pre-med ... I think having more events like this and exposing more people to this alternative would allow more people like me who feel the passion to want to be a lawyer at some point to get on that bandwagon way sooner," he said.

He noted that his interest in the legal field came from his work in startups, and that the event inspired him to pursue that interest.

Several students noted that resources and community presence for pre-law were more limited compared to pre-medical advising at Hopkins. Sophomore Lyle Carrera, who is pre-law, felt that the resources were not as extensive.

"To my knowledge, pre-law involves being on an email list and having an advisor," he said.

Junior Robert Cortes also remarked that there were not as many organizations devoted to the pre-law community at Hopkins. He said that the Law Review was the first organization dedicated to students interested in becoming lawyers.

For student organizers, the Gala was the culmination of a year's worth of work. The Law Review began last fall with the organizers attempting to provide a place for undergraduates to write, think and talk about issues related to the legal system.

Boroumand explained that the Law Review's successes could facilitate further growth of the pre-law community at Hopkins.

"This has been our first full year of operation," she said. "We're really looking to build our momentum going into next year, to recruit more people to join our staff and to hopefully have more events like this where we can have these kinds of conversations."

Clarification: The original version of this article stated that Kiana Boroumand and Hannah Stone are members of the JHULR. Boroumand is the editor-in-chief and founder of the Law Review, while Stone is the director of programming for the Law Review.

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COURTESY OF TED TAK

Famed civil rights attorneys come to Hopkins to speak to Law Review.

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<![CDATA[Hopkins helps cities use data to run efficiently]]> The University announced plans to launch a new initiative, entitled Centers for Civic Impact, that aims to help public sector organizations streamline their operations, in an e-mail to the Hopkins community on Monday.

Under this program, Hopkins has created two new programs to work in conjunction with its Center for Government Excellence (GovEx). The broad initiative is comprised of the existing GovEx, a new Center for Applied Public Research and a new web-based training program, GovEx Academy.

The Executive Director of the Centers for Civic Impact Beth Blauer described the reasons for expanding the University's involvement in the civic impact sector.

"Our reasons for expansion was due to the high demand of these services in particular: data-driven solutions through coaching, public sector training and evidence-based research that can help governments solve problems," Blauer wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

"Within Applied Public Research, we are creating Communities of Practice that will allow peers throughout the world to meet and discuss solutions and ideas."

Hopkins developed GovEx as a consulting group that works with large data sets to improve city government operations in 2015. The Center supports Bloomberg Philanthropies, a nonprofit founded by Michael Bloomberg, and its effort to take evidence-based recommendations to municipal governments around the world.

GovEx has worked with over 100 cities and trained over 2,000 government employees so far. In Jackson, Miss. the GovEx team used big data to locate the inefficiencies in the city's budget by comparing Jackson to mathematically similar cities. This allowed the city to go from having a $14 million deficit in 2014 to a $6 million surplus deficit in 2017.

The Center for Applied Public Research seeks to conduct research on three primary focus areas in order to best improve public health and well-being. These areas are economic mobility, education and workforce and food insecurity. The Center's website indicates that they aim to make their research findings accessible for governments and nonprofits.

The website currently features a series of blog posts on each of these topics. Authors for these blog series include Nadir Al Kharusi, a graduate student in Applied Economics; Katherine Klosek, the director of applied research at GovEx; and Allison Hardebeck, a junior in Public Health Studies. The blog addresses current policy issues and evaluates proposed solutions, with a focus on analytical approaches.

GovEx Academy is an online learning tool similar in format to massive open online courses such as the ones offered on larger platforms like Coursera and EdX. Some of the 10 courses offered include "Getting Started with Data Management" and "Foundations of Open Data." While four of these courses are free, the rest cost several hundred dollars each. The platform is intended for public sector employees to acquire data analysis skills.

Blauer explained how the Centers for Civic Impact operate financially.

"Governments of all kinds (states, regions, counties, cities and countries) have two ways to work with any of the Civic Impact centers. We have a grant-driven model with partners such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ballmer Group, Knight Foundation, and others, which allow us to provide coaching and training at no direct cost to the government," Blauer wrote. "We also operate a fee-for-service model which, because we are a nonprofit, allow us to work directly with governments for much less than traditional consulting companies charge for similar services."

Freshman Sylvana Schaffer believes that the initiative has potential, particularly in the Baltimore region.

"It could do a lot of good to help out with local governments, and it could do a lot for communities," Schaffer said. "We should definitely be aware ... of our influence in the Baltimore area and how much good we could do specifically for Baltimore."

Schaffer also added that social science research opportunities on campus can be scarce.

"There are a lot of undergrads, especially in the social sciences and humanities fields, where they don't necessarily have the same opportunities to do research that are open to people that are doing a STEM major, so I think things like this would definitely be of interest to a lot of undergrads."

Blauer explained that the Civic Impact initiative maintains the University's overall mission, while broadening its scope.

"Johns Hopkins is dedicated to educating students, fostering research and bringing beneficial discoveries to the world. The Centers for Civic Impact has the same mission just focused on the needs of the public sector - educating government and [non-government organization] staff, connecting research to real world policy creation, and sharing the cultural and policy changes which make an impact," Blauer wrote.

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<![CDATA[Greedy Reads builds community through books]]> The small, unassuming dark brick building sits at the corner of Aliceanna and South Ann in Fells Point. Large white letters spell out "Greedy Reads" on the street side window; inside, the bookstore's owner, Julia Fleischaker, sits in a pool of red and blue light cast by the building's original stained-glass windows, browsing on a laptop in her armchair.

Next to Fleischaker lies Audie, a shy labrador-greyhound mix, watching customers browse through over 2000 titles that rest on white shelves and reclaimed wood tables around her. In the background, Charles Bradley and Van Morrison play as the warm summer breeze and sounds of the city drift in through large windows.

Fleischaker opened Greedy Reads in February 2018. She moved to Baltimore from New York City to open the shop after spending nearly 20 years in the publishing business, a career that she "fell into" early in life.

"The joke in publishing is that everyone wants to either write a novel or own a bookstore," she said.

To her, opening Greedy Reads was like building her "dream library." The name "Greedy Reads" comes from the feeling Fleischaker gets when she walks into an independent bookstore.

"When I go into a great bookstore, I want to read everything, I want all of it," she said. "I'm greedy for reading."

She found the location for the shop by accident while strolling through Fells Point. Fleischaker had originally planned to move back home to Montgomery County, but the small corner storefront on the quaint, tree-lined street was too good an opportunity to pass up, especially considering that there were no independent bookstores in Fells Point at the time.

"I feel like I lucked into a city and neighborhood that really connects people, and who is better at that than bookstores?" Fleischaker said.

"I really feel the fabric of the neighborhood in the people and interactions that I see everyday."

She's fallen in love with the city since moving here, and that love is driven by the people she sees in the store.

"There's so many creative and talented people here making their way and creating a life out of their art and their passions," she said. "That's the thing about Baltimore: it's full of people trying to foster community."

Fleischaker's dream for Greedy Reads is to do exactly that. To her, promoting "conversations and interactions is the essence of what a bookstore should be." For example, Fleischaker also hosts book clubs and meet-and-greets with authors.

The independent bookstore business isn't an easy one. The meteoric rise of Amazon and the downfall of national brick-and-mortar bookstores, like Borders in 2011, are two major trends threatening the bookstore industry. Digital devices also continue to replace print media. According to The Baltimore Sun, 43 percent of independent bookstores nationwide closed their doors between 1995 and 2009.

However, small, homey stores have made a comeback in the past couple years. As a new player in the industry, Greedy Reads is thriving.

Fleischaker's experience in publishing has contributed to Greedy Reads' success, though she recognizes that working in the publishing industry is very different from running a bookstore.

"Publishing was a lot about connecting information to people, and [owning a bookstore] is a lot more of connecting readers to the right books," she said. "I don't know how running a bookstore is supposed to be done, so I just do what makes sense."

So far, following her common sense has been a great business model. The freedom to choose what to stock has allowed her to not only add her personal touch, but also to absorb the curiosities of the neighborhood. For instance, the interest her patrons have in urban planning and "how cities rise and fall" has surprised her.

"I've learned a lot about the voices I like to read, who I trust and the things I want to read and listen to," she said.

That learning has influenced her own tastes and the selection of titles on the shelves.

"That's the thing with an independent bookstore. I cater to the things that the neighborhood and the people that I interact with are interested in, rather than ordering books for the whole country behind a desk in New York," she said.

Greedy Reads celebrated its first anniversary in February. Though she sometimes finds the workload and hours overwhelming, she wouldn't change anything.

"It's only been a year, but it's been an awesome year," Fleischaker said. "Everything has been a first for me. Everything feels special and new."

As for the future, Fleischaker has no definitive plans yet. She's still taking the thrill of Greedy Reads in.

"It's been supremely gratifying to me to feel so warmly welcomed and embraced by the community," she said.

As our interview comes to an end, a 12-year-old girl comes in. She wears a shirt that reads "GIRLS RULE" and looks over the young adult fiction section with childlike enthusiasm. Her dad tells us he'll pay for half of whatever she chooses to make her "focus on what's important."

With a beaming smile, the girl perfectly captures Fleischaker's philosophy with her quick reply: "Dad, books are important!"

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<![CDATA[Reading period: a time to pause and wind down]]> The countdown to finals is getting dangerously low. Get excited, folks. Even the worst of procrastinators - myself included - are beginning to settle down and spend some quality time with their textbooks and laptops in order to prepare for this most hellish of hell weeks. Before that, though, is a four-day reprieve: reading period.

Reading period is supposed to give us extra time for studying - something we Hopkins students knowingly signed ourselves up for when we decided to enroll here and something we also love to complain about. It's a good opportunity to quite literally live in Brody, if that's something on your bucket list.

But that's the wonderful part of reading period: We technically have nothing to do. There's nowhere we actually have to be (various personal commitments notwithstanding). Our time is all free in the sense that for once, how we spend it is all up to us. Of course we should spend a lot of it studying if we want to do well during finals, which I'm assuming most of us do, but why not take advantage of this interlude in other ways too? Why not treat it as another weekend or even a long weekend instead of just pre-finals?

Reading period is the only extended period of time during the semester when there is no academic programming but when campus isn't also partially or totally shut down, like during holidays and breaks. After those four days, we'll be trapped in exam rooms and packing to go home, and then it's all over until next year - "it" being the slog of homework and finals but also our time with our friends and peers here. No, we're not quite through with our academic commitments for the year; finals do demand a lot of preparation. But we made it through classes, and that in and of itself is an accomplishment. On top of studying, we can take some time to celebrate the end of the year while we're all still on campus.

It's not like there's nothing to do, either. Check out Baila! or the Buttered Niblets or any number of other events on campus this weekend. Go to a party. RSVP "yes" to your organization's formal. Venture out into Baltimore or even all the way to D.C. for a free Around the World Embassy Tour on Saturday. Watch Netflix. Cook a nice meal. Experience the joy of not setting an alarm and instead sleeping until your body actually wants to wake up.

I know this isn't that profound. That there are so many things happening this weekend, specifically on campus, is testament to the fact that many of us are not in fact planning to spend every single waking second studying, even if we say we will (and some of us will still probably come close).

But I challenge us to take it a step further: Don't feel bad about not spending all your time studying. Even when we take a break, we still feed into that toxic Hopkins culture of overwork if we feel ashamed about taking it, if we feel like taking a break means we can't handle what's on our plate. So squash that nagging feeling that will make you wonder if you could've gotten a few extra points on your exam if you had just kept studying.

Because here's the thing - and it's something that's starting to be said a lot but bears repeating. The problem with our campus culture is not that we feel obligated to do a lot of work. The problem is when we let it choke off the other things we want out of life, like a regular sleep schedule and meaningful relationships and pursuing passions and interests that lie outside of academics. Those are normal, healthy things to want, and it's also great to want to do quality work for our classes. Studying should not always win out, not even during reading period.

So on that note, happy reading period, good luck with finals and have a great summer!

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RDSMITH4 / CC BY.SA 2.5

Milton S. Eisenhower Library, a space frequented by workaholic JHU students.

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<![CDATA[Hopkins community reflects on Mayor Pugh scandals]]> Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents raided Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh's house and offices at City Hall on Thursday. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan called on her to resign in a public statement hours later, following the lead of the City Council and the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC), a regional organization comprised of University President Ronald J. Daniels and other business and civic leaders.

Pugh's business dealings have been under state investigation for more than a month. On April 1, Pugh's office announced that she would be taking an indefinite leave of absence to recover from pneumonia. This statement coincided with a report from The Baltimore Sun detailing that health care company Kaiser Permanente had purchased about 200,000 copies of Pugh's Healthy Holly children's books for $114,000 between 2015 and 2018. During this period, Kaiser Permanente was negotiating with the city's spending panel to provide city employees with health care coverage. According to The Baltimore Sun, Pugh did not abstain from the vote despite the alleged conflict of interest.

In addition, The Baltimore Sun reported that the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), a regional health care system, paid Pugh $500,000 for 100,000 copies of the book. Pugh stepped down from the UMMS board on March 18 after facing backlash over neglecting to fully disclose this deal.

Sophomore Political Science major Nicole Kiker criticized Pugh's relationship with Kaiser Permanente and UMMS, advocating for Pugh to step down.

"The powerful and rich people of Baltimore swapping money behind closed doors is not a good look," she said. "Pugh should definitely resign. The entire City Council has called for her to do so."

Pugh is the second Baltimore mayor this decade to experience corruption allegations. In 2010, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon resigned after being found guilty of theft and embezzlement. Under the City Charter, Pugh cannot be removed from office without a conviction.

During the FBI and IRS raids, Pugh's attorney Steven Silverman stated that Pugh was not yet "lucid" enough to decide whether to resign, according to The Baltimore Sun. Pugh initially vowed to return to her role as mayor, health permitting.

"She is leaning toward making the best decision in the best interest in the citizens of Baltimore City," he said.

On Tuesday, Silverman told The Baltimore Sun not to expect a decision by the end of that day.

City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young has been the city's acting mayor since April 1. Senior Political Science major Sean Jost, however, argued that Pugh's failure to resign prevents city government from being effective.

"Due to her health concerns, it would probably be better both for herself and for the city if she steps down," he said. "The longer City Hall remains in limbo, the less effective government will be and the less legitimacy it will have."

Jost added that Baltimore requires strong leadership in light of Pugh's scandal, debate over the planned private police force and other issues facing the city.

The Student Government Association (SGA) hosted a policy roundtable discussion regarding such issues with State Comptroller Peter Franchot, who serves as Maryland's chief financial officer, at Shriver Hall on May 1. Franchot believes that Pugh should be succeeded by someone like Senator Mary Washington, who has been a vocal critic of the proposed private police force. Washington represents the state's 43rd district, which comprises of Abell, Charles Village, Waverly and other Baltimore neighborhoods.

"She has the most indispensable ingredient that an elected official needs. She has integrity," Franchot said. "She has guts, too... If you can't get her, get someone like her to run for mayor. Put somebody on the job who's there for the right reasons."

Mikhael Hammer-Bleich, former president of College Democrats, echoed Franchot's sentiments. Hammer-Bleich highlighted the need for voters to support and campaign for candidates who will not bring shame to Baltimore politics.

"We must do everything we can to make sure that whoever is appointed or elected next to take Pugh's spot really is a pure person," he said. "It's a terrible sign for Baltimore that we're unable to get mayors without any scandal going along with them."

Hammer-Bleich stressed that Pugh should step down. Although the GBC, on which Daniels sits, voted unanimously in favor of Pugh's resignation, Hammer-Bleich believes that Daniels shouldn't be involved with be the scandal going forward.

"I don't think it's Daniels' place to call for her to resign. He should be apolitical and stand back in this particular moment," he said. "It's the role of politicians to call for an ouster. He's the president of Johns Hopkins."

On Jan. 9, Daniels donated $3,000 to the Committee to Elect Catherine E. Pugh. Eight other senior administrative officials and one retired hospital CEO contributed an additional $13,000 to the campaign, according to the finance report Pugh filed with the Maryland Board of Elections.

Citing these donations, Kiker disagreed with Hammer-Bleich, emphasizing that Daniels should personally call on Pugh to resign.

The News-Letter asked Vice President Communications Susan Ridge to comment on whether Daniels will be calling directly for Pugh's resignation. In an email to The News-Letter, Ridge reiterated Daniels' support for the GBC's recent resolution.

"Like many Baltimoreans, President Daniels is deeply concerned about the allegations involving the Mayor and their impact on the city," she wrote.

Ridge explained that Daniels' donations to Pugh's campaign were unrelated to the Mayor's support for a private police force, the bill that State Senator Antonio Hayes introduced on Feb. 4 at the request of the University. Ridge wrote that Pugh has supported a university police department at Hopkins since 2017.

Kiker explored the potential repercussions of Pugh's failure to resign.

"If Pugh doesn't resign, Baltimore will only enhance its reputation for corrupt politics," she said.

On the other hand, freshman Orlando Espinoza believes that Baltimore students and community members will be able to withstand Pugh's corruption scandal.

"I don't think there's a single scandal that could break our optimism for our city," he said.

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<![CDATA[Avengers: Endgame is a worthy finale to the 21 film franchise]]> I can still remember the sense of excitement I felt when I first watched the original Avengers movie, and Avengers: Endgame, released on April 24, managed to capture that same sense of excitement and potential.

In the original Avengers, it was so incredible to see all of the familiar characters in the same room, finally interacting with one another and providing the ultimate payoff to all of the teasers and post-credits scenes of the previous six films.

More importantly, Marvel's The Avengers signified a major transition for the franchise. For the first time, the entire universe was spread out before us; it no longer felt far fetched that the Hulk might show up in one of Thor's films, or that Captain America and Iron Man would fight with one another over government regulation of superheroes.

The Avengers set the stage for so many possibilities, and it was so exciting to wonder where the franchise would go next.

Avengers: Endgame elevates all the strengths of its predecessors to new heights, while also serving as a tribute to those that came before. It also delivers a satisfying conclusion to the overarching narrative that stretches across the franchise's previous 21 films. It is gorgeous, hilarious and awe-inspiring, and serves as the perfect capstone to this wave of the Marvel franchise.

Also, a quick warning for anyone concerned about spoilers: Although I will do my best to avoid mentioning specific details from the film, I will be discussing some basic plot points. If you want to go into the movie completely blind, I would stop reading, there are some spoilers.

Endgame picks up shortly after the events of last year's Avengers: Infinity War, in which the tyrant Thanos succeeded in his quest to collect the Infinity Stones and used their power to wipe out half of all life in the universe.

As the surviving members of Earth's mightiest heroes grieve their lost friends and comrades, they must also figure out a way to retrieve the Infinity Stones, undo their previous defeat and defeat Thanos once and for all.

Endgame can be roughly divided into three sections, each of which highlights a certain strength of the film.

The opening sequence, for instance, focuses on the surviving characters and their attempts to emotionally process the immense loss of life in the wake of Thanos' victory in the previous film.

It carries a much more somber and introspective tone than anything else in Marvel's cinematic universe, which allows us to see a new side of characters that might otherwise feel overly familiar. Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) throw themselves into their work helping others, while Thor (Chris Hemsworth) isolates himself from the rest of the world, ashamed of his inability to stop the tragedy.

Even though it is clear that the emotional drama will eventually segue into a more typical, action-based narrative, the opening still does an excellent job of grounding the characters and demonstrating what exactly they are fighting for throughout the rest of the film.

The second - and longest - part of the film centers around the heroes' attempts to revive their lost allies, which allows the film to explore the dynamics between the surviving characters.

Part of the joy of viewing crossover films is seeing familiar characters interact with one another for the first time, and Endgame fully delivers on that front.

There's something glorious about watching characters like War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Nebula (Karen Gillian) play off of one another, and all of their interactions, no matter how unlikely, are funny and interesting.

It is also nice to see familiar characters with established relationships continue to interact with one another - Black Widow and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) get some particularly excellent scenes that underscore their devoted friendship.

The middle portion of the film is also an incredible and over-the-top homage to the history of the Marvel franchise that is absolutely amazing to watch.

In their quest to defeat Thanos, the Avengers return to a series of iconic locations from previous films' backstories in truly hilarious and iconic ways. There are so many references and in-jokes that it almost feels gratuitous, and any fan of the franchise is sure to love all of the little details that pop up throughout the film. It is a lovely tribute to the franchise and its fandom, and End Game was an absolute delight to watch.

The film ends just like all of the other Avengers films. All of the heroes are facing off against a massive army of faceless goons, engaged in an epic fight.

These battles are almost always pure fan service, an excuse to watch the protagonists unleash all of their abilities before the credits roll, and this scene is no exception.

That being said, Endgame's finale definitely goes all out.

All of the remaining heroes - including some incredibly unlikely ones - get a moment to shine in the fight, and there are some awe-inspiring moments that caused the entire theater to break out into cheers while I viewed the film.

And while it might be mostly fan service, it is done so well that it glosses over most of the potential flaws in that particular scene.

However, Endgame does run into one of the franchise's most persistent problems: The villain just isn't very interesting.

Although Thanos and his influence loom over the narrative, his depiction is a lot less nuanced than it was in Infinity War.

He loses any of his sympathetic traits and becomes much more egotistical and power-hungry in return. It's a surprising depiction that ultimately undermines much of the characterization from the previous film.

Furthermore, there's no real opportunity for any of the characters to truly engage with Thanos during the final confrontation in the film.

None of the fight scenes seem to have any real emotional weight to them - the conflicts lack intensity, and the ultimate villain of the franchise feels like just another generic evildoer as a result.

Ultimately, it is a fairly minor issue that doesn't detract from the sheer spectacle of the final confrontation, but the movie's inability to establish a compelling villain is still a disappointment.

However, even a few narrative quibbles aren't enough to detract from the overall spectacle that is Avengers: Endgame.

I spent most of the film unable to look away from the screen for fear of missing the next jaw-dropping moment, and I couldn't come up with a single complaint while I was actually watching the film.

It's an onslaught of humor and fan service, as well as the perfect culmination to the Infinity Stone narrative. It might be the end of an era, but if this is how Marvel concludes a story, then I can't wait to see what they do next.

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