Managing and News Editor
President Sanford Ungar sent an email to the Goucher community on Dec. 19 announcing a fee for academic internships, which carry typically three to four credits, at $450 per credit. The new fee will be implemented beginning summer 2013.
According to Student Government Association (SGA) President Dashell Fittry ’13, “Sandy is slated to speak to Senate, the tentative date is Feb. 20th. Once that date is confirmed, an email will be sent to the student body talking more in depth about the policy and about Sandy attending Senate.”
In his email, Ungar wrote, “After careful consideration, we have determined that students should pay for the academic credits they receive while attending Goucher regardless of how such credits are earned, and have therefore decided to make a change to our internship credit policy.”
The choice to charge students $450, according to Ungar, was reached as it “is the same amount currently charged for students taking courses during the summer.”
According to Laurie Burton-Graham, Goucher’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, the decision to attach a cost to academic internships taking place during summer, winter, or when a student is taking over the 18-credit limit during the academic year, was reached by members of senior staff. “I can’t remember if it was brought up to college council or not to be honest, but I know senior staff spent a lot of time talking about it,” she said.
Burton-Graham continued that the discussion began at the start of the academic year in the fall and the college’s Vice Presidents made a formal recommendation to Ungar in November ahead of his Dec. 19 email.
Traci Martin, the Director of the Career Development Office (CDO), said that conversations about charging for academic internship credits have taken place “for years.” She continued, “We have been asked in the last couple years to do some research and benchmarking with our peer institutions. We were having conversations with [former] Vice President and Dean of Students [Gail] Edmonds and [Provost] Marc Roy about what exists, providing numbers, how many students get credit.”
In the email, Ungar cited reasons for the additional fee. “We anticipate that the additional income to the college, while helpful, will be limited,” he wrote. “Rather, the policy of charging fairly for all academic credits received is one that honors the value of a Goucher education and, ultimately, a Goucher degree.”
Burton-Graham mirrored Ungar’s opinion, saying, “Charging for credits is standard practice and it’s good practice and it’s practice at most of our peer institutions. In fact, it’s practiced at most higher education institutions.” She continued, “It says something of a value of a Goucher degree and a Goucher education.”
She later added, “This isn’t a huge windfall for the college, it’s more about the principle.”
Although further discussions about where the money will be placed is likely to continue, Burton-Graham said, “I think the decision to charge the fee is done. I would be very surprised if Sandy is going to revisit that decision.”
After students received Ungar’s email, a Facebook group was created, titled, “Gophers Against New Policies,” which drew over 400 students. Said Fittry, “It is nice to see the students so passionate about an issue, but as with many ‘campaigns’ on Facebook, the students lose interest and the group dies off. This happened to this group within a week.”
Instead, Fittry hopes students will email their SGA representatives to voice concerns in the future. He explained, “Over 400 people joined the group, but only 16, [or] 4% of the group, people took the initiative to contact me personally which says something about the effectiveness of online campaigns like the one that was launched for this policy change.”
According to Martin, the first cycle of students getting internships in the summer will prove helpful as the discussion moves forward. “I don’t think this is the end of it,” she said. “I think we’ll need to continue to look at what the departments will do, the choices students will make.”
While Fittry said he personally “doesn’t have a problem with the policy,” he continued, “as SGA President, it is my duty to address the concerns of the student body which I have done and which will be further discussed at Senate with President Ungar.” He continued, “I think once the student body gets all the facts and understands the policy a bit more they will come to agree with me that this policy makes sense and is going to be beneficial to the campus.”
Martin believes the first summer of internships with the fee will be telling. “We’re really just going to have to go through a cycle this summer and see what happens and evaluate it and adjust as best we can,” she said