On this page, you can find previous advocacy statements and announcements.
PDF Document: Internship Resources During COVID-19 (text below)
Many internships, summer programs, and experiential learning opportunities (including those providing
income) have been canceled or postponed because of COVID-19. We recognize the hardships this may cause and have compiled a list of available resources that may provide alternate opportunities, update you on the status of various companies, and connect you with others who may help further. This list is below.
- The all-grads and gro-careers list-servs commonly have internships and funding opportunities sent out through it. Sign up for these list-servs at the links provided (hit subscribe).
- The PDCO office has a page on internships reserved exclusively for graduate students: Internships – For Students | BCI (Biomedical Careers Initiative)
- Handshake also has internship offerings (hit Jobs, then filter by internships). There is also a helpful module on 500 companies that are hiring on Handshake right now.
- LinkedIn also has internship offerings (hit Jobs, then filter by internships).
- The PeopleGrove alumni mentoring platform is launched and functional right now. It would helpstudents connect with Alumni who may have opportunities to hire paid/unpaid interns. JHU Students are encouraged to get on PeopleGrove if not already as more grad alums are being added to the platform.
- SMILE is the new campus experiential learning platform that connects current students to paid internships and employment opportunities across Johns Hopkins University. This platform includes on-campus paid internships and a variety of student jobs.
- A comprehensive list of companies that are either still providing internships, hiring, or in a hiring freeze due to COVID-19 (in addition to the hiring websites) can be found at the following sites: https://candor.co/hiring-freezes/, https://github.com/gcreddy42/hiring2020
Homewood Grads: For Masters students with concerns about internships (or lost internship opportunities) and co-ops, questions can be directed to Mark Savage (email@example.com) and Christine Kavanaugh (firstname.lastname@example.org). A variety of experiential learning information is also listed on the WSE COVID-19 FAQ page.
East Baltimore Grads: Please reach out to the PDCO to discuss internship and experiential learning opportunities.
The GRO General Council & Roshni Rao, Director of PHutures
PDF Document: GRO Update COVID-19 Advocacy (text below)
To the Homewood Campus,
As the COVID-19 situation has developed, we have continued to advocate on behalf of all graduate students on a variety of concerns and issues. Here, we wanted to give you a brief update about what our actions have included thus far.
Over the last two weeks the GRO has been building a broad coalition of graduate student groups, including our own organization, Teachers and Researchers United (TRU), and the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA, Medical School), in order to advocate for the concerns that COVID-19 has raised, including all of those listed in our previous correspondence to you on March 25th, 2020. Our approach has been three-fold: we have worked with this graduate student group coalition to advocate for a list of fundamental principles that Hopkins as a university should uphold in response to COVID-19 (top-down advocacy). Such principles could serve as a guiding document to the various schools to use as a template for their response moving forward. Second, we continue to meet regularly with administration from both WSE and KSAS in order to advocate from within the schools themselves about issues we have been hearing that are school-specific (lateral advocacy). Finally, we have supported the recent TRU petition, as written by your fellow graduate students, and have shepherded many questions to the administration that we have received directly in our inbox (bottom-up advocacy). We have been successful in finding resolution to some of the points we have raised with the administration, who have been understanding and receptive to our concerns, particularly regarding academic issues such as optional pass/fail, etc.
The main points we are currently pushing with the administration are related to the following fields:
- Extending financial support for graduate students affected by COVID-19. This is a complex issue which will become more complex the longer the COVID-19 shutdown continues. We have been pushing for extensions of stipends and healthcare coverage, particularly for PhD students.
- Ensuring no student faces departmental or institutional penalty for research delays connected to the COVID-19. This would include no retribution for missed research deadlines and leniency for students who are currently on probation.
- Providing options to delay graduation or support PhD and masters students who are graduating, including advocating for waiving (or ideally eliminating) non-resident tuition, prioritizing hiring of current students for postgraduate research and non-research positions, and pushing for the dissemination of information regarding or internships and co-op programs to replace those that were delayed or canceled.
- Eliminating the GRE as an entrance requirement for this upcoming year (and hopefully beyond).
- Integrating graduate students more deeply into the decision-making process of the university, particularly for those decisions related to COVID-19. This could include feedback mechanisms for new policies or funding decisions with current graduate students before they are finalized and published.
- Pushing for continued mental health and wellbeing resources and their transition to a remote environment. This includes the counseling center and how the associated translation to an online interface can be optimized and reach the most students possible.
- Development of online social programming to help graduate students continue to feel a sense of community and connection.
The FAQ pages for KSAS and WSE students and for general graduate student information have been regularly updated with responses to questions like the ones that you have been forwarding to us, and we recommend browsing through them for your information. We will continue to provide updates on our efforts in the days to come.
The GRO Executive Board
To the Homewood Campus,
On Thursday, March 19th, we were made aware of a petition (found here) which was drafted by Teachers & Researchers United (TRU) regarding needs from the administration in regard to the security and wellbeing of graduate students on campus in light of the COVID-19 situation.
The GRO General Council (GC) has voted to endorse the petition and to express support for the items and spirit of the issues raised therein. We believe that many of the points raised in the petition complement our own advocacy efforts and the issues we have been hearing from graduate students. It is imperative that the administration continue to construct clear, concise, and decisive action regarding the needs of its graduate students in light of COVID-19. For those seeking available guidance and information, the university currently has FAQ pages for KSAS and WSE students and for general graduate student information, which are updated regularly.
We echo many of the needs raised in the TRU petition, including the need for extension of time to degree, funding security, modifications and support in non-resident tuition, and a shift to an option pass/fail grading system for the remainder of this semester.
In addition, the GRO Executive Board has been meeting regularly with the WSE and KSAS administration and has been advocating on issues such as those raised above and also including:
1. Regarding graduate students who have been marked as “essential” and are still on campus:
- Adequate biohazard material pickup.
- Continuation of security on campus.
- Continuation of JHU shuttles and buses.
- Continuation of facilities coverage (cleaning of bathrooms, common spaces, and labs) during the shutdown.
- Continuation of access to campus buildings and details regarding further restricted access to buildings.
- Guidance on how to appeal if you have been designated as “essential” personnel but you do not want to come to campus.
- Alternative transportation options (either parking on campus or Lyft/Uber payment) for students who would ordinarily be required to travel using the Maryland mass-transit system and can no longer do so.
2. Regarding all graduate students:
- Clear guidance and leniency on academic issues such as: grades, incompletes,withdrawals, probations, time to degree, etc.
- Reporting graduate classes that were still taking place after the mandate to cancel classes two weeks ago and to move all future classes online.
- Reporting lab/group meetings that were still taking place in person last week.
- Establishing reporting procedures for students who were being pressured to continue to come to campus by their PI’s despite not being essential personnel.
- Advocating for school-wide and university-wide statements on being more understanding and lenient towards graduate students as they are adapting to this “new normal”.
- Pushing for continued mental health and wellbeing resources and their transition to a remote environment.
- Support and guidance for Masters students regarding finishing their degree on both essay and non-essay tracks.
- Development on online social programming to help graduate students continue to feel a sense of community and connection.
Please feel free to sign and distribute the TRU petition, as desired. Information is developing rapidly at this time and we will keep you as informed as possible as the days progress.
Respectfully yours, The GRO
On March 9th, a group of graduate students from the organization “The Garland Sit-in and Occupation” attended our General Council (GC) meeting and presented some concerning information involving the student code of conduct and its selective application toward acts of free-speech, protest, and activism on campus.
Several years ago the GRO Executive Board participated in editing and providing feedback on the the JHU Free Expression Guidelines and in particular advocated for the following clause:
“Accordingly, these guidelines are designed to support the right to engage in acts of public expression and the right of an audience to receive that expression. Any negative short-term effects of airing controversial views – provided those views are expressed in ways that do not threaten, incite violence or raise demonstrable health or safety concerns – are outweighed by the long-term benefits to our community of a robust exchange of ideas.”
With this context, we have been informed that specific graduate students who were involved with the The Garland Sit-in and Occupation, and were granted amnesty, have also participated in other, non-violent, protests on campus and have been specifically targeted from within a group of participants for disciplinary action. In addition, the threat of revocation of said amnesty has been used as a weapon towards these students by preventing them from participating in any further political action, regardless of whether said action fits within the clause stated above.
The GRO has voted to express that we expect that students’ right to free speech is protected and that no punitive action is taken against any student based on any previous political action, regardless of whether it is related to the sit-in. We expect that this right is protected particularly in the case wherein said action ended with amnesty from the university. This vote is in line with our previous statement on amnesty and free expression which were voted on in April of 2019, which read:
“The GRO wishes to ensure all members of the Hopkins community are allowed to exercise their constitutional right to free speech without fear of punitive action or retribution from any other member or organizational body within the Hopkins community.”
The GRO has voted to support the spirit of an initiative constructed by the JHU Sit-In, which can be found attached to this letter. Further, we stress that administrative practices of equity and uniformity in the execution and interpretation of the student code of conduct are of the utmost importance in relation to said matters.
Sincerely, The GRO
We realize that the issue of cutting the WGS fellowships is very much on your radar, but wanted to formalize and make you aware of some decisions that the GRO has made recently regarding the issue:
At the GRO GC meeting on Monday 11/18/2019 the GC passed the following motion: “There is a motion that we circulate the [WGS] petition, open letter, and JH Newsletter article ASAP; that the Advocacy Chairs draft a letter to Dean Matt Roller on this matter, and that the chairs raise this issue with Dean Matt Roller at their next meeting.”
This letter was summarily sent on 12/2/2019 and a response was provided by you, which we appreciated. However, there are several specific questions that went unanswered in that response.
At the GRO GC meeting this past Monday 12/9/2019 the GC passed the following motion: “There is a motion that the e-board and GC members who have been highly involved in assessing [the WGS] issue and preparing letters for the GRO aid in providing talking points and information [to the Co-Chairs], with direct responses to Dean Roller’s comments and how they are inadequate in addressing the relevant issues.”
We have been hearing repeated reports from across our constituency regarding the WGS fellowship cuts and the subsequent town hall that the electronic responses to the concerns raised therein are inadequate in satiating the concerns, fears, and other questions posed by graduate students. As a result, it is incumbent on us Co-Chairs to continue to raise these issues to you and continue the conversation in our forthcoming meeting(s).
Below is an enumerated list of concerns which have been generated based off your response to the GRO via email on 12/4/2019. We hope to work through them with you point-by-point in person at our meeting on 12/17/2019 and beyond, if needed.
● The future of the program is not in jeopardy. The Dean’s Office recognizes and values the intellectual contributions of the program, and has made large investments in recent years to build and sustain the program.
○ Would it be possible to include representation from graduate students (i.e., the GRO or other organizations and student stakeholders) in these discussions and meeting before such decisions are made? We, the GRO, feel that if graduate students had been involved in the planning and discussions regarding all of the changes that many of these issues and concerns may have been
● Besides hiring a number of faculty whose work contributes to the mission of WGS, the School is currently conducting a search for a tenure-stream faculty member to be shared between WGS and History, whose teaching and research is explicitly to support the program.
○ We have been informed that the job posting, as it currently reads, states that while someone with some specialty in WGS related issues is desired, the job posting does not explicitly state that this position is for a WGS faculty member. Can this be modified to reflect the intent of the position?
○ It is our understanding that this search happened three years ago and failed, and that this faculty member would, in practice, only be part of the History department and WGS would have no sovereignty or control over that faculty member and therefore there is no guarantee that such an appointment would ensure that WGS courses are taught. Thus, is there a way to guarantee that the host departments provide an adequate number of faculty required to teach the 5 courses currently offered each semester?
● The structure of the WGS Teaching Fellows Program does not provide support to its fellows at the baseline level that the School requires. It is standard practice in the School of Arts and Sciences that full-time faculty, not doctoral students, deliver the core undergraduate courses for our majors and minors. There is now a sufficient number of full-time faculty involved in WGS that faculty should resume leadership in this regard.
○ While it is good that there is faculty available to spearhead the coursework, this change limits and potentially removes funding opportunities for graduate students. At this point, the only way these courses could be taught is if both the WGS program and a graduate student’s home department approve of a course application to a DTF (doubling the requirements and hurdles) and that it is funded. Will there be any changes in the DTF to account for these difficulties?
○ This may particularly affect students beyond their 5th year in KSAS which have no guaranteed source of funding. What are the current and planned selection criteria and priorities for DTF selection w/r/t WGS courses? We would like to see pathways unique to WGS courses in particular.
○ In addition, because WGS is not a department, there is no required teaching load for faculty. Without the personal will and commitment of certain faculty, the courses would not be taught. Is there way to require faculty to engage with this program?
● Doctoral students have robust opportunities to teach WGS-related courses at equitable stipends, with full tuition remission and health insurance, through the Dean’s Teaching Fellowship and Dean’s Prize Fellowship programs.
○ It is our understanding that DTF’s can only be awarded to a single graduate student a single time. Thus, with a finite amount of graduate students in this relatively small program the ability for them to participate multiple times is limited, which dampens the ability to re-teach popular courses and puts the long-term viability of the program at risk.
○ Further, many people want to be specifically associated with and supportive of the WGS program.
● The budget for programming and all non-teaching activities in WGS is unaffected by this change
Other concerns that have been raised are:
● We have received reports that the group TRU has gathered data that fewer than 50% of DTF applicants receive the fellowship, despite your statement that all applicants were funded. A presentation of data on these acceptance rates and other DTF statistics would be helpful.
● Would it be possible to have the DTF program guarantee that some number of grants would be set aside for WGS? When this question was raised previous is was noted that the DTF program could not be modified in this way. Why is this the case?
● What is the timetable of these changes coming into effect?
We look forward to continuing the conversation with you. Thank you for your time and consideration.
All the best,
We are writing to bring to your attention an advocacy issue which affects graduate students at Hopkins. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has proposed a rule change for their agency such that: “students who perform any services for compensation, including, but not limited to, teaching or research, at a private college or university in connection with their studies are not ‘employees’ within the meaning of Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act.” This rule change reverses a previous 2016 ruling. The NLRB is accepting comments on this proposed rule change through November 22, and all comments will be read and considered prior to a final decision.
More details regarding the history of this rule change can be found here:
By being considered as employees under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), graduate students are given certain protections from the U.S. federal government. Protections include making it illegal for the employer to retaliate against an employee for exercising rights including (from the NLRB website: https://www.nlrb.gov/rights-we-protect/rights/employee-rights):
● Rights related to unions, such as:
○Forming, or attempting to form a union in your workplace; Joining a union whether the union is recognized by your employer or not; Assisting a union in organizing your fellow employees; or Refusing to do any or all of these things.
● And rights not related to unions, such as:
○ Two or more employees addressing their employer about improving their pay; Two or more employees discussing work-related issues beyond pay, such as safety concerns, with each other; An employee speaking to an employer on behalf of one or more co-workers about improving workplace conditions.
● Other examples can be found here:
We are circulating and signing on to the following petition [https://forms.gle/qrfmV7YLuBe4WaQt7] written by Teachers and Researchers United (TRU) because the GRO GC believes it is important for graduate students to be able to at least discuss and request changes to their working conditions including, but not limited to, better pay, lab safety, or deciding whether or not to join a union.
Signatures on this petition will be accepted through November 20 and individual comments can also be made directly to the government’s comment portal. Whether or not you support unionization, it is important to make your voice heard regarding graduate student “employee” status. Individual comments can be submitted at:
We understand that there may be some graduate students in positions that will be strongly impacted by the change in the NLRB ruling and others who may not be impacted at all. Advocating on behalf of the minority is a critical duty of the GRO and we continue to extend our support to all students.
Sincerely, The GRO
Dear Assistant Dean Sean Recroft,
It has been brought to the attention of the GRO that graduate students are looking for clarification, unequivocal language, and transparency regarding changes in Summer & Intersession Course Selection Policies. In the past, summer and intersession courses were selected in the following way:
- Firstly, a potential instructor would devise a course and submit it to their head of department
- Secondly, the head of the department would accept, reject, or suggest amendments to the proposal.
- Thirdly, the proposal would be forwarded to the department of summer and intersession programs, who would then post them on SIS.
- Finally, the department of summer and intersession programs would set a minimum enrollment level. Courses that met this level would be offered. Those that fell below it would not.
As it is understood by the GRO, these policies have since changed and Summer & Intersession courses are now selected in a different, unknown way. It has been brought to our attention that instructors in the Philosophy Department, for example, have had the relevance of their courses queried and have had to provide written justification of the courses above and beyond the standard application materials. Elsewhere, a summer course with a proven track record of success in prior years was not approved for the 2019 Summer session, and without explanation to the instructor.
We polled graduate students on this subject and found that an overwhelming portion of them were unaware that teaching a course was an option for them. As teaching may provide invaluable experience for many as an aspect of their career development, we believe more needs to be done to raise awareness.
Among respondents who have successfully navigated the course proposal process in the past, about 30% indicated their courses ultimately failed to meet minimum enrollment requirements. With this appearing to be a common issue, it is critical that a teacher who has put in the time and effort to design a course understand how they may be compensated should the enrollment threshold not be reached.
Among those respondents who have successfully taught a course, half of them chose to so more than once. That indicates there is strong motivation for many to continue teaching. Any changes to the rules or criteria surrounding course proposal and acceptance needs to be clear and explicit not just for those new to the process, but also to support the continued professional development of those who desire to gain more teaching experience and hone their skills.
The GRO has a number of grievances with the process of selection for Summer & Intersession Courses. One, this method seems obscure as there have been no formal notices of new criteria for course selection.Two, it appears that this method is not being applied consistently across courses and departments. Three, we are concerned that course content is being assessed by persons who do not have knowledge of recent work in specific disciplines.
We are concerned that the centralized control of course offerings undermines the democratic nature of how Summer & Intersession courses were previously selected. Moreover, the lack of clear guidelines regarding the new selection criteria means that instructors do not know the basis of courses gaining or losing approval. Teaching is a vital portion of professional development for all graduate students, especially those planning to continue to faculty positions in the future, and the reduced ability to adequately prepare to teach, and to teach, courses affects graduate students professionally and financially.
We ask that your office issue a formal statement detailing the evaluation criteria by which course proposals for Summer & Intersession Programs are currently approved so that instructors can better prepare their proposals. We also invite you to our General Council Meeting to discuss these changes. Our next two meetings will be on October 28 and November 4 at 6:00PM in the Great Hall in Levering Hall. Please let us know if you are willing and able to attend.
The Graduate Representative Organization
PDF Document: Memorandum On New PhD Policies (text below)
The GRO has representation on a university-wide committee on Ph.D. education (The Ph.D. Advisory Committee) regarding policies that will improve the life and educational experience for Ph.D. students. We wanted to send a brief summary of the three main policies that the GRO helped work on that were passed by the Doctor of Philosophy Board and put into effect this academic year (2019-2020):
● Mentorship Policy: This policy replaces the Rights and Responsibilities of Ph.D. students policy, and places equal responsibility on the advisor/mentor in the professional and personal relationship between student and mentor. It also outlines what departments should be doing to support good mentoring, etc.
● Professional Development Annual Discussion Policy: This policy mandates (at least one) annual discussion to take place (and offers templates for discussion) regarding the professional development of the Ph.D. student and promotes ways that advisors can support and encourage such development within their groups.
● Maximum Time-to-Degree Policy: Only affects the incoming first year class this year. Shortens the max time to degree from 12 to 9 years, not counting leave of absences and other granted exceptions.
Dear fellow grads,
As you might already be aware, the Republicans are planning on counting tuition waivers as taxable income in their new tax bill. If this bill were to get through, graduate students receiving tuition waivers would have to pay significantly higher taxes. In addition to the large cut to our after-tax income, the quality of our education, research, and teaching would very likely be affected. Here are links to a few articles on the possible effects of the bill:
We just sent an email to the Provost’s Office to request information from JHU’s administration on the university’s plan before and in case the bill is passed.
We will meet for our next E-Board meeting on Monday and currently continue our discussion on possible steps the GRO could take to support our community members. If you have any suggestions or questions, please let us know via this form:
GRO Statement: Executive Order on Visas and Immigration
On January 27, 2017, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the President of the United States signed an executive order temporarily banning people from seven countries and all refugees from entering the United States. The GRO fully and emphatically condemns this executive order. Thousands of refugees, legal immigrants, and non-immigrants have not been able to come to the United States. Countless others have been forced to avoid traveling outside the United States, held hostage by the fact that they may not be able to reenter. These are people with valid documentation, including green card holders. Entering the United States as an immigrant or refugee is not an easy task and usually has to be prepared months, sometimes even more than a year, ahead.
For graduate students and other academics from the seven countries, the executive order has professional as well as personal consequences. Some of these professional restrictions are practical – academia relies on international exchange, and international travel is required for nearly all of us. Others are less direct – it is unreasonable to expect a person living under a government that treats them with open hostility to put their concern for their well-being aside and focus on their academic goals. The executive order and its plausible successors may also mean that we cannot receive any new graduate students from the affected nations, limiting the educational choices of these potential students and impoverishing our community.
President Daniels has made a clear statement that “the order stands in unambiguous opposition to our country’s long-cherished values and ideas” and that the “human impact of such an assault on these core values was immediate, including at Johns Hopkins” (http://hub.jhu.edu/2017/02/01/daniels-immigration-order-message/).
We are thankful for such clear words and we endorse President Daniels’s message.
The GRO’s purpose is to advocate for graduate students and we have taken a stand against this discriminatory act. Last week, we participated in the NAGPS action day and on Monday, we decided to support this rally. We do what the graduate student body asks for, so if you have ideas, please let the GRO General Council and Executive Board know. Apart from supporting and starting actions, we can help fellow graduate students navigate difficult situations. Although we cannot provide legal advice, we can direct you to resources and connect you with people on campus who specialize on particular questions and problems.
As the GRO, we condemn the executive order and any form of discrimination against refugees, visa holders, and visitors of the United States.
If you are affected by the executive order: you are welcome at JHU and we are proud that you are part of our community.