Urge Johns Hopkins Administrators to Support ALL Graduate Students, Workers, and Researchers

We appreciate the recent correspondence from the Provost Office on how Johns Hopkins will support it’s graduate workers and researchers during the COVID-19 crisis, but to put it simply: it’s just not enough. I am writing to ask that you take immediate action to work to close the gap between the University’s current commitments and the needs of graduate workers and researchers.

Since March 24, representatives from Teachers and Researchers United (TRU), the Homewood Graduate Representative Organization (GRO), and the School of Medicine Graduate Student Association (GSA) have been meeting with Vice Provost Nancy Kass and Vice Provost Stephen Gange to present concerns based in part on the petition drafted by TRU and to discuss how JHU can support graduate students dealing with the fallout of COVID-19. While these conversations were ongoing between these student organizations and the Provost Office, the e-mail sent by the Provost Office just informed the graduate students about their final decisions. Regardless of the effort of student bodies to be part of the decision-making, the Provost Office sent an email on April 10th. The content of this email contained some of the points raised by the representative organizations in the Vice Provost meetings, but it has systematically revised down what students had asked for and attempted to limit funding and time to degree extensions only for those “experiencing extraordinary circumtances”. Frankly, all of JHU is experiencing extraordinary circumstances, and an amorphous extended funding application process will not be capable of fairly adjudicating who has been most disrupted in a time of unprecedented global disruption

Academia does not work on a month-by-month basis. None of the University required metrics of progress work on a month-by-month basis. COVID-19 does not only affect graduate workers on a month-by-month basis. Graduate admissions are not on a month-by-month basis. For many fields, even job applications are not on a month-by-month basis. Thus, we urge you to not supply support for graduate students on a month-by-month basis.

In line with the petition and the principled position of TRU, GRO, and GSA, I join other students in demanding:

  • A funding extension of at least one semester for PhD students

  • Elimination of the GRE application requirement and non-resident tuition

  • The creation of more post-graduation employment opportunities for graduating PhD students

  • Greater transparency and communication with graduate students in all levels of decision making that affect our livelihoods and wellbeing

Despite the decentralization of the Johns Hopkins administration, passing responsibility from the Provost’s Office to the Deans to the Department Chairs then ultimately to the Advisors limits the possibility of presenting solutions to all of the necessary stakeholders in an equitable way across all schools.

My goal is to ensure that the Deans are aware of these demands and can work to implement them for their students. We cannot allow the future of students and our research to be left to individual departments. To ensure the equity of all students on campus, we are asking that the Deans of each school work together to collaboratively respond to our concerns amid the COVID-19 crisis.