JHU Disorientation Guide: Then & Now



Typically, when we look through old photos or review past journal entries, it can be hilarious or downright embarrassing to see how we looked, acted, and thought. We laugh (or cringe) because it is funny to see how different the past is from the present. The present seems new, fresh, and relevant. The past, not so much. Things change- that is the only thing certain in life. This might be why it seems so unusual to us when things remain the same, especially over long periods of time.  

One way this realization struck me was through reading a document sent out at the beginning of this semester by various on campus groups called the JHU Disorientation Guide. It was meant to be an alternative introduction to Hopkins for the 2018 freshman class. Student organizations such as the Advocates for Disability Awareness, Black Student Union, Students for Environmental Action, and Hopkins Feminists collaborated to give their input on areas in which JHU falls drastically short in their morals, practices, and treatment of Hopkins affiliates as well as the Baltimore community at large.

When I was looking up the resources to write this article I typed in "JHU Disorientation Guide," clicked the first link, and began reading. The contents covered everything from the prevalence of sexual assault on the Homewood campus to low pay for campus employees such as custodial and cafeteria workers. There were concerns about military research and the difficulties faced by minority students on campus.  I related well to many of the issues because I am an active member of many of the organizations credited. I myself have taken part in protests against many of the injustices described. 

After reviewing a diagram of the power hierarchy of the administration, I noticed several names of provosts and deans that were not familiar to me. I flipped back to the cover and realized that the document I was reading was published in 2014. Four. Years. Ago. I quickly googled the 2018 version and looked at the table of contents. Nearly every subject covered in the newest edition was addressed in the 2014 edition. More disturbing, many of the complaints and demands outlined in the older version were nearly identical to those in the 2018 copy. After four years of protests, meetings with administration, sit-ins, and unfavorable news coverage, almost zero progress has been made in the areas of campus employee pay, questionable research, sexual assault, quality of life for minority students, or Hopkins-Baltimore relations.

The Fall 2018 guide has been released to students and has already been reviewed by numerous faculty members. It is causing a bit of a stir at the administrative level. Currently, meetings are being scheduled to discuss how the campus should react to this guide. Students can probably expect an announcement in their email inbox in the weeks to come, but it is highly unlikely that they should expect significant, practical change to come along with it.

***Disclaimer: This is not to say that students haven’t been trying hard enough or that none of JHU faculty and staff care about us as students or the greater Baltimore community. There are plenty of professors, administrators, and JHU staff members that spend extra hours of work to connect with and advocate for a better Hopkins. Thank you to those who fight for a more inclusive, safer campus culture for all Hopkins students and affiliates.