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This past year, the Student Government Association (SGA) has had both triumphs and tribulations. SGA members have campaigned for years for a student center, and this month they realized that goal when the University announced that one will be built by 2024. SGA also hosted its inaugural Mental Health Summit to address the lack of mental health resources on campus. Beginning in the fall, around 2,000 undergraduates responded to an SGA-led referendum on campus issues. These are some of SGA’s successes from the past year.
Having unparalleled access to research opportunities is not the only unique part of attending Hopkins. We also have several campus traditions like watching fireworks at Lighting of the Quads each December and celebrating the arrival of warm weather at Spring Fair, the largest student-run festival in the country. These things set Hopkins apart from other schools and make our time here memorable. Yet, since as long as we have known, another unique thing comes to mind about Hopkins: our lack of an official student center. We may have dedicated “student union” spaces in Levering Hall or the LaB, but unlike many other colleges and universities, we don’t have a singular building packed with social spaces and resources.
2018 was a historic year for visibility and diversity in film. Black Panther. Crazy Rich Asians. Roma. BlacKkKlansmen. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. These are just a few critically and commercially successful movies that broke barriers by making people of color big-screen superheroes, romantic male leads and defiant heroines.
It’s February, which means that many fraternities and sororities at Hopkins and at other colleges nationwide have just recruited their newest pledge class. To those new recruits, we extend our congratulations. Many students find a sense of community and lifelong friendships in the Greek organization to which they belong. But to those of you who’ve joined fraternities, we’d also like to express our concerns.
Last week, Senator Antonio Hayes introduced a new bill in the Maryland General Assembly: the Community Safety and Strengthening Act. This bill, SB 793, and its correspondent in the Maryland House of Representatives, HB 1094, includes the University’s second bid for a private police force.
Next week, the Student Government Association (SGA) will hold an impeachment trial against Executive President Noh Mebrahtu behind closed doors. SGA members introduced articles of impeachment at their latest weekly meeting, but not before telling one of our reporters to leave the room. That same day, SGA sent an email advertising a Students Against Private Police rally with the subject line “ICE Protest Tomorrow!” And last semester, it had to pass a bill to stop members from using social media, texting, web surfing and shopping during meetings.
The first week of Black History Month is coming to a close. That same week has been a period of extreme, fluctuating weather in Baltimore: after days of snow and temperatures as low as six degrees Fahrenheit, we enjoyed sunny 70-degree weather on Tuesday.
Last Friday, many of us received an email that Hopkins had purchased the building that currently houses the Newseum, a museum in Washington, D.C. that is dedicated to promoting freedom of speech. Located on Pennsylvania Avenue, the building is positioned at the heart of the nation’s capital and will primarily be used to centralize the University’s graduate programs, including the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
When physicians take the Hippocratic Oath, they vow to do no harm and to uphold medical ethics to preserve the safety and well-being of patients in their care. Our institution is known as a leader of medical innovation, and yet it has consistently fallen short of that principle. Many of us attend Hopkins not only for the world class education it provides, but also for its prestigious status. But this reputation rests on a continued legacy of Hopkins undervaluing the lives of its patients.
Over Thanksgiving break, former New York Mayor and Hopkins alumnus Michael Bloomberg announced that he would donate $1.8 billion to financial aid, specifically benefitting low and middle-income students. The donation will allow the University to be a loan-free and permanently need-blind school, and will help Hopkins recruit and support more low-income and first-generation students.
The first Thanksgiving: a peaceful celebration in 1621, where Pilgrims and indigenous people sat side by side sharing food.
Like we did two years ago for the presidential election, many of us headed to the polls, mailed in absentee ballots and attended watch parties for the 2018 midterm elections on Tuesday. Exercising our right to vote and participating in our country’s politics is one of our most valued responsibilities. Yet, midterm elections rarely draw the number of voters that presidential elections do. In 2014, voter turnout hit a historic low at 36.4 percent in comparison to 53.7 percent in 2012 and 58 percent in 2016.
Many of us are reeling from the recent surge of violence we’ve witnessed over the past weeks. On Saturday, a man shot and killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. On the Wednesday before that, a gunman in Kentucky attempted to break into a black church and then proceeded to kill two black people, Maurice E. Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones, at a nearby supermarket. And last week, a man sent pipe bombs to the offices and homes of several politicians and journalists.
In their efforts to inform the public, journalists often put their lives on the line and this past year has been particularly dangerous. A few weeks ago, Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was tortured, dismembered and killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after advocating for free expression in the Arab world in The Washington Post. U.S. President Donald Trump has meanwhile been reluctant to hold the Saudi government accountable in Khashoggi’s death.
After University officials failed to pass legislation that would have enabled them to create a private police force last semester, they announced that they would spend the next several months gathering student and community input to revise the bill.
Indigenous students at Hopkins have worked tirelessly for the past two years to establish a stronger presence on campus and honor their heritage. In 2016, many indigenous students joined a burgeoning nationwide movement to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. In 2017, the group Indigenous Students at Hopkins (ISH) formed under the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA).
In an effort to be more transparent about how it handles sexual misconduct at Hopkins, the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) published its first annual report on Tuesday.
Recently, three women have accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. We’ve been watching his appointment hearings with anticipation.
University officials surprised students on March 5 when they announced support for a bill that would enable the creation of a private police force for Hopkins. Though some students supported the initiative, the bill angered and confused many students. The University had provided few specifics as to the nature of the police force, and had failed to collect student input prior to the announcement.
After only one student ran for Senior Class Council during Spring 2018, the Committee on Student Elections (CSE) held a special election this fall for five open seats, doing away with the usual petition process. Nine candidates ran; voting took place last week and election results were announced this Monday.