In November 2013, Dean Katherine Newman disclosed a plan for the restructuring of graduate studies (the “Dean’s Strategic Plan”), which aims at making Hopkins more competitive vis-à-vis peer institutions. The plan raised deep apprehension among the graduate and faculty population. Members of what will become TRU vocalized concerns through a series of Town Hall meetings and letters to the Dean’s office, and range from the plan’s impact on the intellectual rigor of the research produced, to the implications for the quality of undergraduate programs. The plan’s provision to increase the number of undergraduate students while decreasing the number of graduate students over the following years was especially distressing. The plan increased TA workload. This would potentially harm research productivity and teaching quality by graduate workers.
On December 18th, 2013, the Strategic Plan Final Report is issued, and the administration proceeds with the implementation of the plan. By Fall of 2017, many departments begin to feel the negative effects feared by faculty and graduate students in 2013. You can read more about these events at the JHU News-Letter and the Baltimore Fishbowl.
In the aftermath of the implementation of the Strategic Plan, a group of students come together to discuss the implications of the plan. Why did the administration fail to consult or listen to graduate students as they made big decisions around our working conditions? How can we change this? What do other students think about this? How can we build collective power? This group took on the name Teachers and Researchers United, or TRU.
TRU members started to meet with students from different departments to discuss what they would like to see improved and how they would like to achieve such changes. During these meetings TRU gathered extensive information about a variety of concerns that affect graduate workers, including stipends, instability of funding, lack of affordable childcare and other parental concerns, workplace exploitation, and poor healthcare coverage. Graduate students express the desire to be recognized by the administration for their integral role in the university. The rest is history! Check out the timeline on our History page for more information.