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!
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.
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.
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.