Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
November 28, 2020

Opinion

The opinions presented below are solely the views of the author and do not represent the views of The News-Letter. If you are a member of the Hopkins community looking to submit a piece or a letter to the editor, please email opinions@jhunewsletter.com.



PUBLIC DOMAIN
Biases in facial recognition tools could lead to false accusations and arrests.

Facial recognition technology isn't ready for police use

Last month I discussed how some nightmares of tech-noir films are becoming reality. As an advocate for artificial intelligence (AI), my last intention is to stoke unreasonable fear over new technologies. Unfortunately, I feel I have to sound the alarm again. 


Vote for Joe Biden

There are 26 days until the presidential election. Voter registration deadlines have already passed in 10 states, and the stakes have never been higher — American voters are being asked to choose who will implement the nation’s long-term response to COVID-19. 


DWIGHT BURDETTE / CC BY 3.0
Many Americans face undue burden when it comes to voting.

Voter suppression threatens our democracy. Cast your ballot for those who can't.

I couldn’t shake the feeling of utmost distress as I scrolled through photos of “Trump 2020” flags waving in front of my early voting location, the Fairfax County Government Center in Virginia. Trump supporters had gathered only 100 feet away from the building and were chanting “four more years” as voters made their way into the polling center.  


GAGE SKIDMORE/CC BY SA-2.0 / graphic by Lakshay Sood
Trump’s antics failed to impress voters, handing an average-performing Biden the win. 

In Tuesday’s debate Trump lost, but Biden didn’t necessarily win

Presidential debates are a valued political tradition dating back to 1960, when Senator John F. Kennedy debated Vice President Richard Nixon. When most traditions seem to be fading away, and political campaigning is turning into a series of Zoom fundraisers, holding a debate in a somewhat usual manner was a chance for the American people to feel like their country and its political institutions were still functioning. It was a chance to feel normal.


Trump doesn’t pay his fair share of taxes. Neither does Hopkins.

This week, the New York Times reported that President Donald Trump had paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017. The report further shows that Trump did not pay federal income taxes at all for 10 out of 15 years since 2000. In Tuesday’s presidential debate, Trump called the story fake news, claiming that he had actually paid “millions of dollars” in taxes. 


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Another Trump appointment to the Supreme Court could bring the end of democracy as we know it.

The Supreme Court isn't safe, and neither is America

As a Chinese citizen, I cannot vote in the U.S. I am currently in a quarantine hotel in Guangzhou, on the other side of the planet. Yet I have been thinking almost obsessively about the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and why this event has devastated and terrified me.  




Breonna Taylor did not get the justice she deserved

Yesterday, a grand jury in Louisville, Ky. failed to bring justice for Breonna Taylor. Only one of the three officers involved in her death was indicted for first-degree wanton endangerment charges. Not a single officer was actually charged for her death.  


Students must vote like our rights depend on it

It’s been an exhausting year and election cycle, and it’s not even close to over. Last week, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — a pioneer for gender equality and symbol of perseverance — passed away after a long fight against cancer.  


TED EYTAN / CC BY-SA 2.0
Pre-health students should learn from the legacy of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

What Justice Ginsburg's legacy means to pre-meds

On Sept. 18 of an already disastrous 2020, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away due to metastatic pancreatic cancer. As much as we may have wanted her to, she could not live forever. Nevertheless, her legacy is one that moved the needle toward equality for all in our nation. This is reason enough for everyone in the U.S. to take some time to mourn and reflect on the life she led.  


COURTESY OF SHIZHENG TIE
Shaming anti-maskers is unlikely to make them to change their ways.

Shaming is not a productive part of the mask debate

As the coronavirus pandemic progresses, Hopkins has appealed to the personal responsibility of students by coining the phrase “JH Needs U,” which soon became a hashtag on social media. In Instagram post, the University asked students to send or post a picture of themselves wearing masks and a quote explaining why they do it, with the intention of inspiring others to follow suit. The caption reads, “Wearing a mask has never been more important.”  


We may be number nine, but our priorities are wrong

Hopkins was named the nation’s ninth best university by U.S. News & World Report on Monday, moving up a spot from last year. The announcement of this arbitrary ranking was met with quite the fanfare in the Hopkins community. The University’s social media pages celebrated the news. Students and alumni flooded our feeds, delighted about the University’s new status.


FILE PHOTO
Without an in-person network, radical virtual collaboration is the key to student support.

Adapting to a virtual semester will require radical collaboration

Do you feel like you are in class? It’s the second week of Fall 2020, but the semester still feels as though it hasn’t started. For most of us, learning from home, online classes and student gatherings don't feel the same as in-person interactions. Sitting in front of a screen all day is hardly different from time spent during the summer. The question remains: How should we best adapt to a virtual Hopkins?


COURTESY OF RUDY MALCOM
Hopkins needs to improve its contact tracing resources to help at-risk individuals stay safe.

Prodensity is not enough to track COVID-19 in the Hopkins community

Prodensity — an app originally developed to facilitate the record tracking of in-lab researchers during Phase One of the University’s reopening plan — has now improved to allow Hopkins affiliates in Baltimore to access resources and report their health status, as well as seek help if they have symptoms. 


PUBLIC DOMAIN
The susceptibility of predictive artificial intelligence to racial biases makes its use dangerous in the criminal justice system.

Artificial intelligence poses serious risks in the criminal justice system

Whenever I tell people that I’m interested in artificial intelligence (AI), most of them bring up their favorite movie that features an evil AI assembling an army of killer robots that threaten to wipe out humankind. I have to admit that I used to be right there with them, but as entertaining and enjoyable as they are, they lead to a lot of misconceptions about what AI truly is and the very real ways that it impacts our lives.


PUBLIC EDITOR: Defining the Public Editor and setting priorities

For those of you readers who watch this space, you may have noticed the handover that took place over the summer. After ably serving as The News-Letter’s first Public Editor, Jacob Took graduated and has now joined the staff of The Cecil Whig and The Newark Post. For the next nine months, I will be your Public Editor.


Where the University is failing us, SGA has set its own example

To say that the University has a history of poor communication is an understatement. This has been particularly evident over the course of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For example, amid a nationwide reckoning with structural racism, Hopkins has yet to take any meaningful action to address its contributions to these issues. While we were signing leases and booking flights, Hopkins failed to update us on its plans for the fall semester. 


GAGE SKIDMORE/CC BY-SA 2.0
While Biden would likely be a centrist president if elected, there is hope for progressive action.

How Biden’s message of unity would work as a governing strategy

Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden has adopted a promise to unite America as his central message. This could not have been more evident at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) where not only was “uniting America” the theme of all four nights, but the speaker line-up featured an array of different ideologies, from Senator Bernie Sanders to former Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich. 


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