When faced with the gargantuan institution that is Johns Hopkins University, an entity with a $2.6 billion endowment, conducting research from Near Eastern Studies to Mollecular/Cellular Biology it’s understandable if you feel a bit small. After all as a Hopkins student (or a future Hopkins student) you’re just one person, if you see something you don’t like on campus, if there’s something you think needs to be changed, providing the impetus for that change can be quite an intimidating prospect. Luckily, over the past three months the student body has proven time and time again that Hopkins is a place that listens to input. That Hopkins is a place not only where we can come to learn how to make change in the larger world, but where we can help mold the university into a better place for all.
This year Hopkins brought in a new dining company Bon Appetit to serve the student body. The general consensus on campus is that the food this year is much better. With healthy, sustainable options most of my friends are generally happy with the food here. There are of course things people wanted changed over the course of the semester. In the FFC (the Fresh Food Café, where most freshman eat) a lot of students wanted basic things changed, what sort of food was being offered at various stations, what kinds of food would be available when, the hours of operation of the FFC etc. Students reached out to the Student Government, participated in town hall meetings with Bon Appetit and changes were made. Now you can get waffles at late night, which is up there with the wheel and sliced bread in terms of great human ideas. You can now get a quesadilla every day for two weeks if that’s what you want (I did and couldn’t recommend it more highly). And now there’s no shortage of siracha to put on your burgers.
Along those lines was the University’s decision to remove the $250 fee they planned on instituting for Intersession. In the past, Intersession, the three week period between semesters during which students can take interesting, funky courses was free of charge for classes offered here at Hopkins. This year, because of the large number of students expected to enroll for Intersession programs, a registration fee was instituted. The decision was met with a lot of protest. Students organized a petition that had over 900 signatures. After submitting the petitions, e-mailing administrators we got an e-mail this past week that the fee was not going to be instituted.
While these two examples may seem relatively minor there are countless others of student voices bringing about change on campus: student involvment in bringing change to the Kosher section of the FFC, having a say in the ongoing development on Charles Street, it’s clear that we have a voice here at Hopkins. As a student it’s empowering to know that despite the size of Hopkins, despite the infrastructure and inevitable bureaucracy that comes with the running a $2.6 billion entity, we have a say in what goes on. I was attracted to Hopkins initially because I knew it would be a place I could come and start the path towards making meaningful changes in the world. I could come here, learn in various fields and put forth that knowledge to affect the world. I have no doubts that my classmates are going to be the ones to cure cancer, to develop alternative energy sources, to become the next Garcia Marquez, the next Feynman. But I guess I took for granted how we would also be able to shape the environment around us. Hopkins is my home, the home of my peers for the next few years, and I’m glad we can help shape it into the kind of home in which all of us are happy living.