An increase in mental health crises in the fall of 2011 at Belmont University forced its department of Counseling Services to implement a waiting list, an option the department’s Peg Leonard-Martin calls “intolerable” and a “serious problem.” Belmont Vision reporter Dustin Stout has details on how the university is now working to counteract the problem.
Internships offer exclusive access and real-world industry experience for college students and graduates, but sometimes unpaid internships aren’t practical, affordable, or legal.
In 2011, more than 1 million Americans worked as interns. Half of them were unpaid, according to an NPR report.
Often companies aren’t willing or able to pay for part-time employees, so they create positions for unpaid interns and push the boundaries of fair labor laws and workplace fairnesswith excessive work weeks and no compensation.
According to The New York Times, Xuedan Wang worked at Harper’s Bazaar for four months last year as an unpaid intern. She typically worked 40 hours a week, sometimes 55 hours.
Wang didn’t receive college credit because she graduated prior to attaining her position at the magazine.
She filed a lawsuit against the magazine’s publisher, Hearst Corporation, Feb. 2, citing fair labor law violations. Wang and her law firm have asked to make the case a class action suit.
She’s asking for minimum wage, back pay and overtime for the hours she worked with no compensation, according to Reuters.
The United States Labor Department developed a Test for Unpaid Interns with six criteria to determine whether internships act in accordance with The Fair Labor Standards Act.
The guidelines assert, “The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.” Further, interns shouldn’t displace regular employees — they should work under the supervision of existing staff. The work experience gained through interning should correspond with training provided in educational settings.
If an unpaid intern is able to earn college credit, then employers are abiding by the FLSA. However, if they aren’t able to earn college credit, then employers are expected to provide compensation.
“Even though it may be the environment you want to work in, an internship isn’t sorting papers and stapling all day,” said Patricia Jacobs, Belmont University director of career services.
Internships are becoming an integral part of college curriculums, and employers are expecting college graduates to have had real workplace experience.
Katie Boyd, a junior audio engineering technology major at Belmont University, is currently interning at Starstruck Studios in Nashville. Though her internship is unpaid, she’s receiving one hour of college credit.
“It’s a learning experience,” Boyd said. “It’s like a class in that you’re learning from it, so I think it’s worth it.”
With the state of the economy, both students and companies are experiencing financial strain. For Boyd, she understands the challenge facing interns and their employers.
“If they can’t pay you, they can’t pay you,” she said. “And if you can’t get credit, if you can’t afford school credit, then you can’t . . . it’s just difficult when you can’t take an internship because you can’t get credit for it.”
Tents in varying shades of green and blue line the walls of War Memorial Plaza. Each tent has been strategically tied, zip-tied and bungee corded to with stand even the roughest winds. Duct-taped peace symbols and spray-paint decals give a little bit of personality to the normally bleak abode.
For a nearly four months, those tents have been home to the Occupy Nashville movement but following the seemingly inevitable passage of HB 2638, the tents are coming down and along with it, possibly the entire movement.
For roughly 30 people, the death of the movement signals more than just the end of Occupy. It means a separation from a dream and from the group they call family.
Wood strikes the marble steps at the plaza with every step he takes. His cane keeps him steady during the rounds through the tents. Everything about Tom Sweet is methodical, timely and even-keeled. Until he speaks with passion, that is. His whole demeanour changes and his normally soft-spoken voice booms across the plaza.
At 53 years-old, Sweet’s 6 foot 2 inch frame is bent and withered. A side effect from the three strokes he suffered in Montana.
“The doctors say I’m a miracle, and well I already knew that cause I’m walking,” said Sweet.
Crippled he calls himself. A social defect in normal society, but at Occupy he’s a respected individual.
It’s Sweet’s turn on the soapbox during General Assembly.
“Our rights are being violated,” he said. “We need a government for the people by the people. … We must be in unity, but we’ll take this one day at a time.”
He’s a late joiner to the movement but most of the group on the plaza. Sweet is willing to risk jail time for the cause.
“Come back out on Thursday to see the show,” said Sweet. “I’ll be in my tent just waiting for those troopers to take me away, to take the cripple away.”
Sweet sings a gospel tune he wrote himself as he limps off to return to the safety of his tent and home for the final days of the movement.
He proudly strolls into the public library, pointing out inspirational photos and quotes as he goes.
“I draw inspiration from this room,” Henry said as he walks into the Civil Rights Room.
A college degree, a championship fighting title and a well-off family all sit in his past. A past that Henry doesn’t talk about much.
Conversations with him center around big-world topics. Corruption in government, education and sports are just a few of his favorite. For Henry, the world is his soapbox.
Occupy Nashville provided the chance for him to take a stand and fight inequalities.
“This movement really comes down to inequalities. Being black, this is a prominent issue for me. This has always been a passion of mine,” he said.
With the certain passage of HB 2836, Henry is not only losing his platform, but his new family.
“You really get to know people out here. You become family,” he said.
Dubbed the “big bad bill” by Occupiers, HB 2638 along with its sister bill SB 2508 were created with the intent to protect the proper use of government property and is aimed directly at the Occupy Nashville movement.
State Representative Eric Watson and Senator Dolores Gresham, the sponsors of the bills have both told several publications, including The Tennessean and Nashville Public Radio, that freedom of speech is not an issue here and are quick to reassure their bill is not an attempt to stop this right to freedom of assembly.
As soon as the ink dries on the bill, Tennessee Highway Patrol can descend on the camp, breaking up one of the last remaining Occupy camps in the country.
During an emergency crisis meeting on Monday Feb. 13, the majority of Occupiers decided to move the encampment to Metro Square, shifting the control from the state to local government. A small group, including Tom Sweet ,want to hold of the move and wait for police action.
Legislature’s decision could come as early as Thursday, Feb. 16.
It’s no surprise the United States economy is dangerously low.
With unemployment at 8.3% and living expenses going up, it’s a wonder Broadway’s lights, and other national theatres, are still bright and glowing. New musicals like Disney’s “The Newsies” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and revival shows like “Evita” and “Chicago” are popping up for the 2012-2013 theatre season with positive outlooks. With Broadway tickets ranging from $20 to up to $120 a ticket, it’s a wonder how people are still managing to fit the glitz and glamour of catching a show in their budgets.
The price of tickets is what got Broadway into a slump in 2009 with ticket sales lacking and shows closing because as Marc Shaiman, the composer of Hairspray put it to the New York Times, “It’s like putting a pet to sleep not because it’s sick but because you can’t afford dog food.” In fact, 15 musicals including big names like “Hairspray” and “Grease” closed in January 2009.
“I watched that (sales) line begin to increase and then when the stock market went in the tank it was like everyone pressed pause on their purchase buttons,” Ken Davenport, producer of ‘13’, one of the Broadway shows that closed due to the lack of sales, told Regional News Network.
There was a lot of speculation (and fear) from directors and would-be playwrights if Broadway would continue. Then with the dawn of 2010, theatres and directors seemed to shake off the economic downturn. Ticket sales in 2011 went up, some musicals boasting 100 percent capacity or better, according to the Broadway League.
Directors began to adapt movies into musicals like the recent “Ghost: The Musical”, “Once” and “The Newsies” to name a few. They began to embrace social media. Theatres, in turn, went to Twitter, Facebook, promoting shows with discount tickets, backstage and promotional videos posted on Youtube. The Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, Tenn. offers free tickets to a show for patrons who write a good review they’ve recently seen at TPAC.
Theatres also offer student rush tickets, which fancies Garrett Marks, a junior at Belmont University who has seen his share of shows, about 12 on Broadway or touring companies in various locations.
“I have never spent full price on a ticket,” said Marks.
He snags $20 tickets from TPAC for touring shows. When he lived in New York City for summer 2011, he spent $50 for “Catch Me If You Can” because he “really wanted to see it”.
“When I was in New York City, I student rushed everything,” said Marks. “There’s no reason to spend [$150] to sit in a place that’s no better than the place I sat where I spent $25.”
Because tickets are easy to come by nowadays, Marks argues the value of the ticket has lowered.
“It doesn’t mean anything anymore these days,” said Marks. “You don’t get a medal for saying ‘I bought an actual ticket’ because we all get the same play bill, we all see the same show.”
While that may be, theatres are still offering these tickets. It’s not about the quality of the people coming anymore. It’s about the quantity. Because theatres have opened their doors to wider ranges of audience members via social media, ticket sales continue to rise.