Despite the limitations of an all-online semester, many Hopkins student groups have found creative ways to make the most of this situation and continue to function as outlets for the University’s diverse body of interests. I talked to some student groups to find out their plans for the upcoming semester, and all are eager to show incoming freshmen just what they have to offer!
Are you looking to get involved in theater at Hopkins? If you are, then the Barnstormers are for you. As the largest and oldest theater group on campus, the Barnstormers put on numerous theatrical performances every year. These include their Orientation show, Freshman One Acts and Fall Mainstage during the fall semester, the Intersession show in January, and the Spring Musical and Spring Showcase during the spring semester.
While the Barnstormers are unable to put on the Freshman One Acts this semester like normal, sophomore Courtney Carreira, vice president of studio productions, described a new freshman mentorship program they are planning instead of the One Acts. Through this program, freshmen will be matched with sophomore, junior or senior “parents” that have similar interests; once matched, these family groups will meet for virtual hangouts throughout the week, along with a larger program-wide gathering on Zoom every Friday night.
Anyone interested in acting, lighting design, stage managing or other aspects of theater production can apply for this program! You can find the Barnstormers on Instagram @jhubarnstormers.
Blue Jay Bhangra (BJB) is the only premier co-ed competitive Bhangra team at Hopkins. Bhangra is a popular, upbeat folk dance from northwestern India, and it fuses traditional Punjabi music together with Western styles. Key features of modern Bhangra include intricate formations, heavy drum beats and bright, colorful costumes.
In the past, the team has traveled all over the country for competitions and showcases. According to senior Outreach Chair Sanjana Rao, the team is a tight-knit family. They often spend time together outside of practices and performances, and the team still makes a point to stay in touch and bond even when apart from one other.
Despite not being able to dance together in person, BJB is still moving and is gearing up for a virtual audition season! After an open workshop on Sept. 10, there will be an optional online review of the workshop on Sept. 13 and auditions on Sept. 14 and 15. No previous dance experience is required! Follow BJB on Instagram @bluejaybhangra.
More interested in ballet than Bhangra? Consider joining the JHU Ballet Company! Typically, the company has two main focuses: weekly classes and rehearsals for their showcases. The winter showcase is always a performance of the Nutcracker, while the spring show features classical ballet and student choreography.
This semester, the JHU Ballet Company’s ballet classes will continue online with different classes targeted to different levels of dancers. The company will also be posting videos of their previous Nutcracker performances along with educational videos of company members talking about the Nutcracker’s choreography, costume design, cultural significance and other aspects of the ballet. Lastly, they plan to have monthly themed choreography challenges. Make sure to check out the JHU Ballet Company at the virtual Dance Orientation Show and follow them on Instagram @jhuballetcompany.
The College Democrats at Hopkins (HopDems) is the wing of the national Democratic Party at Hopkins, and they work to help elect Democrats through events like phone banking and voter registration drives. They also put on events such as issue panels, debate watch parties, speaker events and debates with Hopkins Republicans.
This semester, HopDems will hold all their events virtually. According to junior Co-President Sylvana Schaffer, these past few months have shown that events like phone banking, speaker series and even watch parties can effectively be run online. HopDems are also planning an event tailored specifically for freshmen who want to get involved! To stay up-to-date with their plans, follow @hopkinsdemocrats on Instagram.
Octopodes are the University’s oldest co-ed a cappella group. Between performing at Hopkins, competing at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella and recording new music, sophomore Marketing Executive Lauren Tirado said that Octopodes would be of interest to anyone with a love for music and a competitive nature. Beyond that, she emphasized the close familial bond within the group and how they strive to maintain that bond with every member.
This fall, Octopodes and other a cappella groups at Hopkins are holding fully virtual auditions. There will be a virtual A Cappella Orientation Show featuring performances from many of the a cappella groups, so make sure to check the show out for information about the different groups and the a cappella audition process. Octopodes encourages anyone interested to contact them through Instagram @jhuoctopodes.
Even with an online semester, there are opportunities to go outside and get active along with your fellow Blue Jays. Outdoor Pursuits and Johns Hopkins Outdoors Club (JHOC) are two organizations where students are hired to lead outdoor trips for other students. Students who want to become leaders undergo various training and certification sessions to lead sessions such as whitewater kayaking, canoeing, hiking, sailing and more! Outdoor Pursuits trips normally cost $10-$15 per student to attend, while JHOC trips are free for students.
This semester, Outdoor Pursuits and JHOC are teaming up to offer fun virtual events. According to junior Marketing Director of Outdoor Pursuits Sofia Romano, these include free outdoors-related webinars and virtual activities, such as learning about hiking spots around Baltimore, backcountry cooking lessons and sessions dedicated to meeting the instructors. Make sure to check them out on Instagram and Facebook @jhuoutdoorpursuits and @johnshopkinsoutdoorsclub for updates on their final plans.
Wings is a group dedicated to achieving menstrual equity at Hopkins and around Baltimore by making menstrual products accessible, sustainable and normal. Wings does this in a variety of ways, such as hosting menstrual product care package events, donating products to shelters and clinics and giving presentations on a variety of topics. Last spring, Wings also led the Menstrual Products Initiative (MPI) pilot program that stocked bathrooms around campus with free menstrual products.
Juniors and Wings Co-Presidents Elma Chowdhury and Mariama Morray are excited to welcome freshmen to the organization! Along with virtual general body meetings and committee meetings, they are developing plans for virtual volunteer opportunities, educational workshops and speaker events.
Recognizing the needs of the students who will need to return to campus, the students living nearby in off-campus residences, and the University’s essential workers and researchers present on-campus, they are hoping to continue the MPI in some capacity this fall as well. You can follow Wings on Instagram @wingsjhu.
This is just a small sample of the over 400 student organizations present at Hopkins. Make sure to attend the Virtual Student Involvement Fair happening Sept. 3-5 to learn about even more groups, discover what you might be interested in and find out how you can get involved with student organizations this semester!