School of Journalism and Mass Communication votes to change internship requirement

Alexandra Taylor

Future students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication might have to pay twice as much for an internship beginning in the 2014 fall semester.

Members of the JMC faculty voted at a faculty senate meeting Friday and passed a new program for internship requirements, making 150 hours of internship work equal to one credit hour toward graduation. Any major within the school can mandate how many internship credit hours are necessary.

Students earn one credit hour for 300 hours worth of work in the current program for internships in JMC. The proposal was to change that program to one credit hour per 150 hours of intern work and require that students fulfill a single internship of 300 credit hours, or two separate internships of 150 hours each.

Upon hearing about the proposed internship change, which would have required future students to receive two credit hours for a 300-hour internship or two 150-hour internships, students expressed mixed views.

Item six was divided into three individual parts to vote on. Part ‘a’ passed with a 16-10 faculty vote. Part ‘b’ was amended to “Sequences may required for up to six internship credit hours,” and passed, also causing part ‘c’ to pass amongst the faculty.

Item six on the proposal read:

“How to structure credit hours was by far the most discussed and debated topic. We developed the following proposal:

a. 1 credit hour will equal 150 hours of work

b. Students are required to complete a minimum of 2 hours of internship credit to graduate

i. These can be taken as one, 300-hour internship worth 2 credit hours OR two, 150-hour internships worth 1 credit hour each.

c. If their curriculum allows for it, sequences can allow for up to 6 credit hours of internship to count toward graduation”

Before the meeting began, there was a special session where current JMC students were invited to attend, by faculty, to voice their approval or concerns on the credit change. Both Editor-in-Chief Lydia Coutré and senior enterprise Reporter Rex Santus were present to voice their concerns on the change.

Opponents say the change would be an unfair financial burden for students.

“I just don’t think it could be justified. I think it is unmoral,” said Anthony Dominic, senior magazine journalism major and Editor-in-Chief for the Burr. “We’re charging student interns $500 [a credit] hour, it’d be $1,000 [if passed]. It’s totally unnecessary and could be avoided.”

Dominic wrote a piece in the November issue of the Burr titled “How universities, not businesses, are exploiting student interns.”

However, supporters say it offers more flexibility.

“I think 300 hours is steep just to complete all in one chunk,” Isobel Parish, senior advertising major and KentWired Editor said. “It just gives your more flexibility where your internship is.”

One JMC professor made his opinion clear about the change over Facebook. His post was then forwarded to students in student media, who then talked to JMC Director Thor Wasbotten about joining Friday’s meeting.

The official proposal to be voted on, which was given out at the Friday staff meeting, read that internships are required for all JMC students, and that they all have a common course number, syllabus, learning outcomes, students report form and evaluation form for internship employers.

“The changes that were supported by JMC faculty are part of an overall effort to increase the value of the education for our students,” Wasbotten said. “Our new internship program will provide students with more ability and flexibility to enhance their experiential learning in the world outside the classroom.

These votes mean beginning of the fall 2014 catalog year, JMC students’ internship credit hours will be determined by their major. The required amount of internship credit hours could range from one to six.

“We all want what’s best for our students. Every one of our faculty members is working to help our students get the best possible experience while they’re here,” said Danielle Coombs, associate advertising professor, undergraduate coordinator and member of the Internship Program Proposal committee. “This is the way to do that. There is a reason why this is such a robust discussion. We all care and we want to make sure we’re doing what’s best for the students, and sometimes it is hard.”

Other members of the Internship Program Proposal committee included associate director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication Greg Blase; Journalism and Mass Communication associate professor Michele Ewing; journalism associate professor Jan Leach; electronic media production associate professor David Smeltzer and advertising lecturer Wendy Wardell.

Contact Alexandra Taylor at [email protected].