TRU stands in solidarity with faculty, students, and staff at Bogazici University, Turkey

Teachers and Researchers United (TRU) at Johns Hopkins University stands in solidarity with students, staff, and faculty at Turkey’s Bogazici University who have been defending academic freedom and autonomy in the face of authoritarianism. 

On January 1, 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed a pro-government academic, Melih Bulu, as the new rector of Bogazici University. This appointment violates the principles and protocols of Bogazici University, which insist on the democratic election of university rectors by the university community. This intervention in the internal affairs of the university is yet another anti-democratic move by the Turkish government, and is part of a larger process of ongoing state repression. Such impositions significantly undermine the academic freedom and scientific autonomy of universities. 

Previously, Bulu was a political candidate of Erdogan’s ruling party (Justice and Development Party), and his political career is rooted in military and corporate circles. Although he has served as rector in a private university prior to his appointment at Bogazici, his academic qualifications have been called into question. It was recently found that his own PhD dissertation is replete with plagiarism. Despite clear evidence, he denies this accusation. His flagrant disregard for academic integrity makes him unfit to serve in such a position. 

On January 4, 2021, hundreds of Bogazici students, faculty, and staff who shared the above concerns gathered to exercise their democratic right to protest against Bulu’s appointment by the central government. They demanded Bulu’s resignation and a democratic election of a new rector by the university community. Police responded to this peaceful protest with excessive force, including the use of pepper spray and water cannons. The ongoing protests have been followed by heavy police blockades around the Bogazici campus, which continue to remain in place, and early morning police raids upon students’ private homes and subsequent arrest and detainment of at least 45 students. 

As a union concerned with academic freedom, militarization of campuses, scientific autonomy, and freedom of expression within universities, TRU condemns in the strongest possible terms the ongoing attacks by the Turkish government against universities. We openly condemn this blatantly anti-democratic and clientelist appointment of Melih Bulu as the rector of Bogazici, as well as the widespread police brutality, authorized by the Turkish government, on peaceful students. We urge the Turkish government to end its attacks against student activists and meet the demand of the Bogazici community to return to an election-based determination of the university rector.

In solidarity,

Teachers and Researchers United

Categories: Announcements News

Fill out the TRU Covid-19 Survey

As we’re almost halfway through our first all-online semester, we want to keep on top of how operational changes are affecting graduate workers across the University. The administration is planning for the spring, and so are we – please consider contributing your experience to help us figure out what issues should be our focus moving forward!

Click here to fill out the survey, or send us an email at

Categories: Announcements News


Join us for our Reading Group!

Wondering what to do with your Saturday? Thinking a little (virtual) jaunt to the museum would be just the ticket? At 2pm EST this Saturday, September 26, join TRU’s new reading group for a discussion of Michigan’s grad student strike, as well as a ramble through a virtual exhibition on activism at Hopkins. And if you’re feeling ambitious, read up a little on the history of grad student unionization and tell us all about it.

For the Zoom link, send us a note at Hope to see you there!

TRU Solidarity Statement on Black Lives Matter, Police Brutality and Ron Daniels Statement

Teachers and Researchers United (TRU) stands in solidarity with the protests and uprisings happening across the country in response to the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. We condemn police brutality in the strongest terms and call for justice for all victims of white supremacist violence. 

We demand that Johns Hopkins University recognize the harm caused by its continued insistence on establishing an armed private police force and abandon the plan to do so. We already know the harmful and often deadly consequences of policing for black people, and we are appalled at the university’s willingness to risk black lives on campus and across the wider Baltimore City community to establish its police force.

On Monday, May 31, university leadership issued a statement on the current movement against state-sanctioned racial violence without even using the phrase police brutality. Although the statement mentioned the “senseless violence” facing black communities, it failed to explicitly connect this violence to the actions of law enforcement. This explicit link is a necessary step in taking a firm stand against the militarization of and racism within American police forces. While calls for unity seem appealing during difficult and uncertain times, the university has refused to name the problem and take concrete steps to ensure that the same brutality does not become part of our campus community. Moreover, in response to the ongoing situation, the administration has arranged a virtual town hall rather than pursuing concrete ways to undo the structural harm perpetuated by the university. 

We reaffirm our opposition to the establishment of a private police force and call on Johns Hopkins to re-evaluate whether the use of its supposedly limited funds to finance police is necessary or helpful during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We demand that Johns Hopkins cancel its plans to establish an armed private police force. We believe that the university should use its resources to support and protect undergraduates, graduate workers, faculty, and staff to ensure their health, safety, and wellbeing. A private police force will do exactly the opposite and further weaken the relationship between the university administration and the rest of our campus community.

In Solidarity,

-Teachers and Researchers United

Categories: Announcements News

Solidarity with Columbia Grad Workers

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We stand in solidarity with our fellow graduate workers striking at Columbia University – the need for strong graduate support, apparent before the shutdowns began, is even more acute now!

For more information on Columbia workers’ efforts, please visit their website, where you can see ways to contribute to their solidarity actions – send a form email to their provost, register for a workshop on rent action, or just get in touch to express your support.

Covid-19 Protections Petition

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Graduate students are facing drastic changes in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers are being expected to work in an entirely different medium without the guarantee of adequate material support, while research assistants will be set back weeks if not months as experiments are cancelled or lay idle. Graduate workers caring for ill loved ones, those with children, those with pre-existing health conditions or who are immunocompromised, and international students face particular challenges. The impacts of this virus will continue for some time, continuing to affect our research, teaching, and degree progress.

As we work to support our undergraduate students and research projects, let the university know that we expect them to support us too. Sign the petition below to demand that our funding, degree progress timelines, and health insurance remain secure in the face of this severe disruption.


Categories: Announcements News


JHU News-Letter Profiles NLRB Struggle

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Bold text above the TRU logo reads: "The university works because we do!"

Today the Johns Hopkins News-Letter published a feature about the ongoing struggle to prevent the National Labor Relations Board from de-classifying graduate students as workers. Since 2016, graduate students at private universities have been classified as employees of their institutions under the National Labor Relations Act. This means we are entitled to certain protections under Federal law, including the right to organize or discuss working conditions without threat of retaliation. A rule change proposed in September of this year seeks to remove these essential protections.

We are fighting this proposed rule change through multiple avenues:

1. By encouraging supporters to sign our petition:

2. By encouraging supporters to submit an individual comment to the NLRB:

3. By participating in solidarity actions with other grad unions at the NLRB offices in Washington, D.C.:

and 4. By holding a Work-In at the Eisenhower Library, M-Level, on Thursday December 12, 8AM-3PM. Check out our Facebook event ( and stay tuned for more details to come.

The Hopkins News-Letter interviewed two graduate students active in TRU about their thoughts on the ongoing struggle with the NLRB and about organizing on the Hopkins campus. You can read more in the article at the link below.

Categories: Announcements News


National NLRB Action

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Four members of TRU stand with their arms on each other's shoulders with the Capitol building in the background. Two members are wearing orange shirts and hats with the logo for SEIU Graduate Workers Foward

On Thursday TRU participated in a national day of action at the offices of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in D.C. Alongside other graduate unions including groups from Georgetown, American, Duke, and George Washington Universities, we delivered over 20,000 comments to the NLRB affirming that We Are Workers! This event was covered by multiple media organizations including Newsweek:

In addition, we spoke with elected officials, including Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Mark Pocan. Representative Pocan has just introduced legislation to the House that would enshrine in law the rights of grads at private universities to unionize. If passed, this bill would stop the NLRB’s move to strip worker status from graduate students. For more information on this, see Representative Pocan’s press release below. This bill has been endorsed by SEIU – the larger union of which TRU is a part of SEIU Local 500.

The NLRB has extended the time period for which they are accepting comments – all the way to December 30th! If you haven’t signed on to TRU’s petition yet, we encourage you to do so. The Hopkins Graduate Representative Organization has also voted and signed on to the petition.

Categories: Announcements News


Supporting WGS and Strategy Voting Results

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TRU stands in solidarity with the Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (WGS). Recently, the Deans of KSAS announced the cancellation of graduate teaching fellowships for this program. This was done without consulting WGS-affiliated faculty and without consideration of the current or former Teaching Fellows. Many graduate students depend on these fellowships for funding, and graduate teaching labor comprises the vast majority of WGS classes taught on campus.

Here’s a letter from former and current WGS fellows explaining the details: 

Last night, members of TRU attended a town hall with Vice Dean for Graduate Education and Centers and Programs (what a mouthful) Matthew Roller. We received very unsatisfactory answers to our questions. We still don’t know where the money they are taking away from WGS would go to. We don’t know why WGS has been singled out form all programs that offer their own fellowships. We don’t know why Hopkins feels it is necessary to go after a program which amplifies marginalized voices on campus. We also still don’t know why WGS isn’t an independent and fully supported department, as it is at many peer institutions.

The town hall was covered by the Hopkins News-Letter:

We also encourage folks to continue to sign the following petition to show support: 

In addition, we are pleased to report the results of the strategy vote from the online votes and from the general body meeting last night. After counting the votes, the union has chosen to move forward with a voluntary recognition campaign in which we push for a contract. Thanks so much to all of you for voting! Stay tuned for updates and plans for future actions!

Categories: Announcements News


VICTORY! Hopkins Cancels ICE Contracts

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A large group of people carrying signs marches from Gilman Hall towards Garland

We did it!!! It has been confirmed that even after JHU renewed a contract between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the School of Medicine, that contract will be canceled.

This victory is a direct result of the tremendous effort, organizing, struggle and love of many different individuals and organizations – on and off campus. This victory is a clear example of how we as Hopkins workers can hold our university accountable, and how we can work with the wider communities of Baltimore, Maryland, and the United States to change things for the better.

When we work together, listen to each other, care for each other, and refuse to give up, great things are possible. We thank the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE, the JHU Sit-In, the Coalition for a Humane Hopkins, Hopkins Nurses United, ACLU of Maryland, Sanctuary DMV, CASA, and so many more who have stood in solidarity together to make this happen.

More details are available in an article by the JHU News Letter. This victory was also covered in The College Post.

Categories: Announcements News


Rally Against Private Police Bill on July 1

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On July 1st over a hundred people gathered in Wyman Park Dell to protest the formation of the Hopkins private police force on the day that the bill permitting this would go into effect. Representatives from multiple university and community organizations spoke at the rally, including individuals from the Coalition Against ICE, the Garland Sit-In, and the Hopkins Nurses Union.

A representative from TRU spoke at the event, saying that as workers of the university who earn revenue for the university in the form of teaching students and pulling in grants, we have a right to determine how the fruits of our labor are used at this university. Moreover, because we are a part of this university, we have a responsibility to hold the institution and its administrators responsible when they abuse their power and undemocratically push through a racist, armed, and unaccountable police force.

The Baltimore Brew covered the rally and march.

Categories: News


Coalition for a Humane Hopkins, Hopkins Nurses United, and TRU attempt to get a meeting with JHU Hospital Administration

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In the foreground is a red sign which says: "Hey Hopkins, Respect RNs' right to organize." In the background is the facade of the Hopkins Medicine's Billing's administration building.

Today TRU stood in solidarity with Hopkins Nurses United and Coalition For A Humane Hopkins- CAHH as we tried to get a meeting with Hopkins Hospital administration. Here is an account of the events of this morning.

First, our group of Hopkins workers, activists, community members, and more entered the lobby of the Billings administrative building. We were looking for the office of Redonda Miller, the president of Johns Hopkins Hospital, to have a meeting with her and deliver a petition concerning improvements to the hospital.

As soon as we walked past the large statue of Jesus in the lobby we were approached by a security guard. “You’re not allowed back here. Do you have an appointment?” he asked.
Tours go through this area fairly frequently but there was something about our group which immediately signaled to the guard that despite the fact that many of us are *employees of Hopkins* we were trespassing.
Is it because we weren’t dressed in fancy suits?
Is it because many of our faces don’t look like those in the portraits hanging on the walls?
Or is it because there is a little too much fire in our eyes?

Our assorted group attempted to show the flaws in the system to the security guard. How can we set up a meeting if no one will return our calls or emails? “Not my problem,” he said.
As Jesus looked on in the background, we continued to ask for the guard’s assistance. Can they or someone else set up an appointment for us? Is there an administrator who can meet with us here? Would someone be willing to relay a message?

Instead, the guard called for backup.

*Eight* security guards surrounded our group. We continued to ask for help in setting up a meeting or delivering our message. Instead we were told to disperse and leave the building. That “the doors are locked for a reason.” That we don’t have a right to trespass on private property (even though many of us are Hopkins employees). And as some people filmed the interactions with the guards, we were told to put down our phones, that filming is “against policy.” For some reason it seemed much more urgent to the guards that we not film them than that we exit the building (although they wanted that too).

Father Ty Hullinger was with us, and he tried to appeal to the humanity of our cause. No luck. Although, if the Jesus statue came to life and asked to speak with an administrator they’d probably tell him to make an appointment too!

Finally, we read out our petition and delivered the demands and signatures to the most senior security guard in the hope that they would pass them along. The demands included:

  • Suspending the filing of medical debt lawsuits, and dropping all current medical debt lawsuits against patients.
  • Reviewing prior cases in order to reimburse those patients who have been billed more than they should have paid under charity care rules.
  • Screening all patients for charity care eligibility at admissions and increasing signage and notifications about charity care.
  • Removing the citizenship requirement policy for charity care.
  • Meeting with the Coalition for a Humane Hopkins to negotiate a process for implementing these demands in a transparent manner that is accountable to the community.

We left the building and rallied on the sidewalk outside the hospital. Although it was hot as blazes out, we felt invigorated, because Hopkins hospital had shown they are afraid of us! They are afraid because they know we are right and they know we can AND WILL win!

The next rally to improve patient care at Hopkins is coming up July 20th and we hope all the members of TRU will be there to show our belief that a better Hopkins is possible!

Our march with Hopkins Nurses and the Coalition for a Humane Hopkins was covered online in Med Page Today.

TRU Member Interviewed Regarding Private Police on Campus

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On February 13th a rally against private police at Johns Hopkins was held outside Brody Commons. A member of TRU in attendance at the rally was interviewed by the Baltimore Jewish Times. She was quoted as saying: “Baltimore is not the predominantly white uniform face that Hopkins would like to project on its brochures and to the public at large,” she said. “It feels as though, ‘Oh if we make the campus feel safe, or if we project the idea of safety, students will want to come here and parents will want to donate.’ But it’s a false sense of safety and a false sense of security. And of course we have to ask ourselves, ‘safe and secure for whom?’”

TRU continues to oppose the formation of a private, armed, police force on campus because it would endanger the safety of students, workers, and community members. A private police force would not be subject to community oversight, and would only aggravate an already hostile environment towards people of color.

For more on TRU’s history of advocacy regarding private police, see our dedicated webpage on the topic.

Categories: News


Hopkins Nurses Speak Out at Townhall

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five people st in a row at a long red table. A sign in front of each person identifies them. Above the panelists is a powerpoint projection reading "Hopkins Nurses Speak Out. December 1, 2018."

On December 1, nurses from the Johns Hopkins Hospital presented a report with disturbing information about patient care at Hopkins. They revealed that Hopkins frequently sues its patients for unpaid medical debt. Those targeted by these lawsuits are predominantly poor and Black Baltimoreans. In addition, nurses shared how Hopkins has been illegally intimidation in its efforts to thwart the formation of a nurses’ union.

A flyer with the event details for the "Hopkins Nurses Speak Out" event. The event is described as a "town hall on patient care and public accountability."

A representative of TRU spoke at the event in support. TRU supports the unionization of all workers at Johns Hopkins. Just as the working conditions of graduate students are the learning conditions of undergraduate students, so too the working conditions of nurses are the conditions of care for their patients. Working conditions and the quality of work are inextricably linked. In addition, as workers of Hopkins we will continue to hold our employer to a higher standard. We deserve, and the wider community deserves, a better Hopkins. Unions can continue to hold Hopkins accountable.

A recording of the event is available on Facebook, and the town hall was covered by multiple media outlets. In addition, the JHU News-Letter published an editorial in support.

TRU Co-organizes Action against ICE Contracts

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A group of people stand on the upper level balcony of Brody as in front of them a large banner hangs down off the railing proclaiming "END THE CONTRACTS #ICEoutjhu"

TRU co-organized a teach-in as part of the Coalition Against ICE outside Brody Learning Commons. The teach-in was then followed by a banner drop inside Brody. These actions were in opposition to JHU’s contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This is the federal government agency which has become infamous for its deportation raids on migrant communities and the indefinite detention of immigrant families.

The original TRU-endorsed petition calling on JHU to immediately end its contracts with ICE was presented to the administration at the end of September, and we received a response earlier this month. The administration rejected the call for an immediate end to the contracts, primarily on the grounds that to do so would threaten faculty members’ academic freedom.

The Hopkins Coalition Against ICE has drafted a response, which has been endorsed by a number of groups, including TRU, rejecting the administration’s specious logic. Whether or not you can make it Thursday, you can continue to support the anti-ICE movement at JHU by individually supporting the response here.

If the university is serious about its claims of “unwavering commitment” to students and workers “regardless of immigration status”, they need to end their complicity in this brutal deportation machine that tears apart our communities and divides workers on the basis of immigration status.

The action was covered by the JHU News-Letter.

Categories: News


TRU Condemns JHU Union-busting against Nurses

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Johns Hopkins Hospital management has been engaging in illegal activities by attempting to block the organizing of a nurses union at Johns Hopkins Hospital. These illegal activities include preventing nurses from speaking with their colleagues in other departments during breaks or from coming into work on their days off. The NLRB has confirmed that Hopkins has engaged in illegal union-busting activities.

Two members of TRU were interviewed in a recent article in the Hopkins News Letter regarding the university’s union-busting. TRU unequivocally condemns the university’s illegal activities and supports the nurses in their efforts to unionize for better working conditions and patient care. One representative said:

“As grads at Hopkins work to strengthen our own union, it’s vital that we continue to support and stand in solidarity with the nurses in their struggle. When Hopkins tries to bust up unions, mistreat its workers or pursue unjust policies, the only way the community can hope to hold it accountable is by standing together.”

Another member said:

“Of course an institution like Hopkins would absolutely hate it if graduate students and nurses started their own unions. They would have to bargain with us, they would have to give us better working conditions and job security. And while I would argue that all of these things would only improve the productivity and efficiency of Hopkins workers across the board, I am sure the administration sees it as a gigantic thorn in their side.”

The full article is available on the JHU News Letter website.

Categories: News


TRU Rep. Interviewed Regarding ICE Contracts

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A large group of people carrying signs marches from Gilman Hall towards Garland

A representative of TRU was interviewed by the Hopkins News Letter regarding JHU’s refusal to end the contracts with ICE. He said:

The University is participating in supporting an agency whose main purpose is mass surveillance, tracking-down and deporting immigrant families who are living peacefully in this country. That’s not academic.

You can read the full article on the News Letter Website.

Categories: News


JHU’s Unacceptable Response to ICE Contract Petition

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On October 17, President Daniels and Provost Kumar responded to the petition which we delivered on September 21. They did so in a letter emailed only to Dr. Drew Daniel, TRU, Students Against Private Police, the undergraduate Student Government Association, and the Graduate Representative Organization. A copy of their email is attached and transcribed below, along with the response written by the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE and endorsed by TRU.


October 17, 2018
Via Electronic Delivery
Dear Dr. Daniel and Members of the Johns Hopkins Community,

We are writing to you in response to your petition requesting that the university end its contracts with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). We appreciate your efforts to engage our community in debate around significant national policy issues and the work and role of our university. The concerns you raise are serious and deserve a considered response.

At issue are two long-standing educational programs that provide emergency medical training and leadership education:

  • The School of Education’s Division of Public Safety Leadership (PSL) has taught leadership and management courses in degree and certificate programs to law enforcement and public safety personnel at the local, state, and federal levels since 1994, including under a contract with ICE since 2008. This contract will expire in 2019, and the
    PSL program as a whole is currently being wound down.
  • The School of Medicine’s Center for Law Enforcement Medicine provides specialized physician oversight and education for federal law enforcement personnel who are cross-trained as paramedics and emergency medical technicians, including under contracts with the U.S. Secret Service (since 1999), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (since 2007), the U.S. Marshals Service (since 2007), and ICE (since 2004).

Your petition focuses on the role of ICE in carrying out the immigration policies of the current administration, particularly with respect to family separation and deportation. The petition argues that the policies and actions of ICE are so repugnant to the widely shared values of our
community that we should intervene to terminate the contracts and disassociate the university from the agency.

What we believe is not at issue in your petition, but we want to reaffirm based on other questions we’ve received, is the university’s unwavering commitment to supporting our international and DACA students; offering broad access and support to our students, faculty, and staff without regard to immigration status; and providing exceptional care to immigrant and refugee populations in our hospitals and clinics in the United States and around the world. Johns Hopkins does not provide information about the immigration status of members of our community unless required by law, and Johns Hopkins’ safety and security officers neither request information regarding citizenship nor enforce federal immigration laws without a specific court order. We have been unequivocal in our public statements concerning the consequences of recent immigration policies that have a clear, direct, and demonstrable impact on members of our university community.

[Page 2]

After carefully considering your petition, we have concluded that it would be inappropriate and inadvisable for the university to agree to your request.

Our reasoning is grounded in the university’s long-standing deference to faculty decisions made in relation to their research, teaching, and clinical work. This stance is an aspect of our more generalized commitment to the principle of academic freedom.

Here, the two programs at issue were initiated some years ago by members of the faculty in the School of Education and School of Medicine; today, these and other faculty colleagues are responsible for fulfilling and overseeing the programs and remain committed to undertaking educational activities with the agency. Notably, colleagues who lead and participate in these programs do not regard their work as constituting an endorsement—explicitly or implicitly—of the current administration’s immigration policies. In fact, colleagues involved in the programs
share the reservations you have raised about aspects of the federal government’s current immigration enforcement activities. Yet, despite these concerns, our colleagues believe that their programs serve the public interest by providing quality education and emergency medical training
that ultimately benefit those who interact with the agency. Their conviction is buttressed by the fact that the two programs appear to function at some distance from the policies and operational decisions of the federal government, decisions that necessarily change over time and across

We believe that it would be antithetical to the mission of the university if we were to insist that faculty members withhold instruction or medical care in order to have the university express its disapproval of certain aspects of current federal policy.

In this respect, we see a similarity to the view held by faculty elsewhere in the university who conduct research and educational activities in foreign countries where the governments’ norms and policies are regarded by many in our university community as harmful, offensive, or unjust. Despite our colleagues’ criticism of, and opposition to, those countries’ norms and policies, they believe that the benefit of their work—in public health, medical care, engineering, or policy development—merits continued engagement, and even direct work, with these governments. And the university has been unflinching in its support for these activities.

While the claim to protection for research, education, and clinical activities by faculty and students on the grounds of academic freedom is not unbounded, the university must be exceptionally reluctant to abridge that protection. In this case, and after careful consideration of the views of affected faculty, we have concluded that it would be wrong to insist that these contracts be terminated. Thank you again for conveying your views and concerns on this important matter.


Ronald J. Daniels, President

Sunil Kumar, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Our Response

The Hopkins Coalition Against ICE has drafted a response, which has been endorsed by a number of groups, including TRU, rejecting the administration’s specious logic.

Endorsement of the Anti-ICE Coalition’s Response to University

In September, nearly 2,000 university affiliates petitioned Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to immediately end its partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). On October 17, President Daniels rejected our demands, emphasizing that the Public Safety Leadership program is winding down and claiming that ending the Center for Law Enforcement Medicine’s cooperation with ICE would infringe on academic freedom. The administration also highlighted that the university does not abridge existing contracts on the basis of changes in federal policy.

These justifications are unacceptable. Facilitating the activities of ICE — including family separation, indefinite detention and mass deportation — is antithetical to the university’s proclaimed values, lacks the academic merit warranting the invocation of academic freedom, and is indefensible under any administration.

JHU has at least three ongoing contracts with ICE, including a program in the School of Medicine that provides medical training to law enforcement agencies and another in the School of Education that provides organizational leadership training. These contracts amount to over $1.6 million in revenue for JHU. But the university’s collaboration with ICE has not been limited to these 5 contracts: since 2009, the university has held 37 contracts with ICE, with the most lucrative worth nearly $950,000. In total, the university has received $6.5 million from ICE since 2008.

Their defense of these contracts is increasingly untenable by the day. In the time since the university’s response to our petition, President Trump sent 5,200 troops to the US’s southern border in response to an imaginary migration crisis and announced plans to eliminate birthright citizenship. At least 220 children separated from their families still remain in custody, four months after a judge ordered all families to be reunited.

These policies are a continuation of the xenophobic logic that ICE was founded on 15 years ago. Their effects are devastating and far-reaching. JHU’s claim that the contracts are made at a “distance from the policies and operational decisions of the federal government” is irrelevant. Our position is that there is no justifiable way to participate in an oppressive institution regardless of whether one supplies the bullets or the band aids.

The university administration defends these contracts by claiming that to terminate them executively would infringe on academic freedom. In this defense, the administration appears to offer protection for faculty to teach controversial subjects without fear of reprisal. The instructional manner of these contracted courses belies the validity of this defense.

The Department of Homeland Security has contracted with Johns Hopkins University, not individual professors. Many of the courses, both in the School of Medicine and School of Education, are led by part-time instructors who are hired on a course-by-course basis, meaning that the instructors do not have a say in whether to maintain these courses.

Under the proposed definition of academic freedom advanced in the letter, JHU is obliged to accept any contract that has the support of a faculty member. This is not the purpose of academic freedom protections. These “courses” are not forums for controversial discussions, venues for critical examination of fraught topics, or tools for research and knowledge production. They are training programs which enable human rights abuses.

JHU administration also claims that the medical training it provides “ultimately benefits those who interact with” ICE. This is an irrelevant point. If JHU wishes to provide medical services to migrants, they need not to do so through ICE. Academic freedom should not give cover to the immense human cost of facilitating this agency’s activities.

JHU’s response to our petition also underlined the services the university provides to immigrants and proclaimed its support for its students, faculty, and staff “regardless of immigration status.”

Currently, there are several constructive ways in which JHU members contribute to the migrant community. Faculty and students at the School of Public Health, for example, carry out important research to expose the deleterious effects of family separation on children, and have been addressing how the fear of deportation contributes to suicide. We believe in the value of this work and support its continuation and expansion.

At the same time, some of the university administration’s recent actions detract from this positive legacy. Over the summer, the university informed one of its employees of five years that it had failed to submit her H1-B visa application on time because it “would no longer be accepted by the people who scrutinize these things.” Tamsyn Mahoney-Steel, Digital Scholarship Specialist and Adjunct Professor of Digital Humanities at Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries, was given only ten days to leave the US—forcing her to leave her family behind. When she appealed to the university administration she was met with indifference. Nearly 2,000 people petitioned the university on her behalf, but the administration remains silent to this day.

We call on JHU to end its complicity with mass deportations and family separations, and take concrete steps to protect international students and employees. We will not cease our demands until the JHU administration terminates its contracts with ICE.

Endorsed by:
American Civil Liberties Union (Maryland)
Teachers and Researchers United
International Socialist Organization (Baltimore)
Students Against Private Police
Party for Socialism and Liberation (Baltimore)
Johns Hopkins Student Government Association
Industrial Workers of the World (Baltimore)
Jews United for Justice
Students for Justice in Palestine (JHU)

Categories: Announcements News


TRU Stands in Solidarity with Christine Blasey Ford

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A group of people, dressed predominantly in black, stands under the columned porch of Gilman hall. Some individuals have black tape over their mouths, while others hold signs saying things like "#MeToo" or "Believe Women"

Members and representatives of TRU attended the September 27 silent vigil in support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and all survivors. One representative of TRU spoke at the event. The JHU News Letter covered the event.

TRU stands in solidarity with all survivors of sexual harassment and assault. Unfortunately, sexual harassment and assault is no stranger to academia or the Johns Hopkins campus. And even just hearing about sexual assault (in the media or elsewhere) can be traumatic for survivors and their loved ones. Below are some resources that may be helpful to those in the Hopkins and Baltimore community.

  • SARU (Sexual Assault Response & Prevention) is autonomous & student-run. Their 24/7 private hotline can help direct you to further resources. The support line number is 410-516-7887 and the SARU email is SARU’s training is similar to that at RAINN.
  • JHU Counseling Center runs a 24/7 helpline, staffed by an on-call counselor. The number for the Sexual Assault Helpline is 410-516-7333 For more information see 

Note that everyone is obligated under Maryland law to report child abuse, but otherwise SARU staffers are not mandated reporters. Be aware that some Hopkins staff are mandated reporters.

For information on reporting via the OIE, see:

  • In the wider Baltimore area there is also CHANA. Helpline: 410-234-0023, CHANA offers a Jewish community response to the needs of those who experience abuse, trauma and neglect.
  • And TurnAround, Inc. provides 24/7 crisis intervention, trauma therapy, victim advocacy, community education and training, accompaniment services and shelter. (Hotline: 443-279-0379, For crisis intervention&referral 410-377-8111) 2300 North Charles Street, Bmore. Their website is: