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April 14, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-04-14

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4A - Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109




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Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Costs of unpaid internships
Federal laws must be enforced to protect students
T he phrase 'paid internship' is becoming an oxymoron. And
over the last several years, the demise of the paid intern
has been accompanied by a huge growth in the number
of unpaid internships. But some of these internships offer little or
no educational experience to the students they employ. The trend
toward unpaid employment has caught the attention of state and
federal law enforcement officers, who cite strict federal guidelines
that employers must follow when hiring students without pay.
Federal and state government agencies must distinguish between
beneficial unpaid internships and those that exploit students and
enforce labor laws to protect students.

Aspirations of innovation


As reported on Apr. 2 by The New York
Times, investigations intp several exploit-
ative internships have been opened by state
officials and, more recently, by the U.S.
Department of Labor. The acting director
of the department's wage and hour division
has said that unpaid internships offered by
for-profit companies are legal in only a few
circumstances. Federal law requires that
unpaid work by trainees adhere to six cri-
teria. Companies can't derive immediate
benefit from the labor, the experience must
be similar to that of a vocational school and
the interns can't displace paid workers.
Granted, many unpaid internships offer
students valuable educational opportuni-
ties. They can also help students form con-
nections with employers that may lead to
permanent jobs. In today's competitive job
market, employers consider practical work
experience crucial. Many unpaid intern-
ships provide students with this experi-
ence. And unpaid internships can fill an
important hole on a student's resume by
familiarizing them with the inner work-
ings of an industry. Students shouldn't be
scared off by horror stories because many
internships can make a big difference when
searching for a job after graduation.
But some employers use students who
are desperate for work experience as free
labor. Some firms are known to take on
"interns" to perform menial tasks that don't

have educational value. The students find
themselves in the same office as profession-
als in their career field, but they are still far
from an educational experience because
they aren't really involved. And students
in particularly competitive industries may
feel they have no choice but to remain in a
useless unpaid job simply to have the cre-
dential on their resum. These situations
warrant government intervention to pro-
tect students.
But the most troubling problem with
the growth of unpaid internships is the
effect they have on the students who can't
afford them. Many students' finances don't
allow them to spend the summer without
income, and they are unable pay for the
travel or housing expenses associated with
an internship. But because internships are
important to prospective employers, the
inability of low-income students to accept
unpaid internships could put them at a seri-
ous disadvantage when they look for jobs.
Employers should appropriately compen-
sate students to incentivize a diverse group
of students to take internships and help
level the playing field.
Students are valuable members of society
and when their work contributes to the wel-
fare of a firm, they deserve fair compensa-
tion. They should speak up when they feel
they're being exploited. And when they do,
the government needs to protect them.

woke up at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.
And, as crazy as that sounds, I
wasn't the only one. To be more
specific, over 300
people from Ann
Arbor and across
the country woke
up early enough to ,
see the sun rise.
And it was all
in the spirit of a
somewhat abstract
goal: to share ideas
and inspire one TOMMASO
another. We were PAVONE
all going to attend
the 2010 TEDx-_
UofM conference.
On that morning, I thought back to
a conversation I had five months ago.
It was then that my good friend Alex
O'Dell first pitched his idea to hold
a TEDx conference. I was skeptical
at best. To start, TEDx events are as
ambitious as they are unstructured.
At the core, they are self-organized
conferences focused on promoting
"ideas worth spreading." This didn't
give Alex much to work with. And
while I didn't question Alex's creativ-
ity and vision, I doubted his ability to
turn such grandiose goals into reality.
And so it was that five months later on
Saturday morning, I was awoken by
my alarm clock with only one thought
in my mind: I was wrong.
TEDxUofM, which was located in
the Biomedical Research Building,
was a celebration of ideas and visions.
It featured a diverse set of curious
individuals being brought together
by their shared interest in innovation.
600 applied to attend and approxi-
mately half were selected. Unsurpris-
ingly, these selectees were giddy and
energetic (sometimes troublingly so,
given that it was a Saturday morning).
The atmosphere was electric.
I was grumpier than most. I had no
caffeine in my system and was ner-

vous about botching the TED talk I
was scheduled to present later that
morning. But mostof all, I sawsuccess
everywhere around me: the sold-out
auditorium, the flawless design of the
conference programs and the hun-
dreds of red Xs lining the windows of
the Biomedical Research Building. It
was a reminder of how my skepticism
had condemned me to think small,
whereas Alex's aspirations had pushed
him to think big, take a risk, and reap
the rewards.
As the conference proceeded (and
I, thankfully, did not botch my TED
talk), I began to finally experience
the TED spirit. People around me
were laughing, crying, scratching
their heads and interacting with one
another as our brains and hearts were
subjected to a stimulated workout. But
what really lifted my spirits was how
proud I was of Alex.
You have to realize that for many
months I barely got to see him. While
his friends partied on weekends, Alex
secluded himself to libraries and class-
rooms, planning the conference with
likeminded hermits. During phone
conversations, Alex increasingly only
talked about the project. He seemed
preoccupied, distracted - even pos-
sessed - by his lofty goal. I began to
wonder whether it would all be worth
it. This made witnessing the validation
of Alex's efforts all the more inspiring.
If there is one lesson I learned from
Alex and TEDxUofM, it's that think-
ing big does pay off. Where I saw
obstacles and risk, Alex saw opportu-
nity and success. But vision was not
the only variable which was key to
Alex's success; it was also sweat - and
lots of it. Consider the followingexam-
ple. A month or two ago, I was awoken
by a 2 a.m. phone call on a Sunday from
Alex asking meto tell him more about
my proposed talk for the conference.
I was about to complain about the
timing of the phone call when I real-

ized that, for the entire weekend, the 0
TEDxUofM team had spent dozens
of hours, sometimes without sleep,
reviewing speaker applications. It was
2 a.m. on a Sunday in the middle of the
school year, and yet there they were,
slavingto realize their vision.
TEDxUofM was
an example of one
student's drive.
Here at Michigan, we hear con-
stantly that our creativity is prized,
that student initiative is encouraged
and that our aspirations will find sup-
port in the administration. Like many,
I didn't think much of these state-
ments - until Saturday. Because while
the dedication of the TEDxUofM
team was central to the realization of
the conference, the group benefitted
from various University institutions
that invested thousands of dollars in
the TEDxUofM project. This allowed
Alex and his team to implement a suc-
cessful marketing campaign, heighten
everybody's expectations and hit a
home run. It was the epitome of a suc-
cessful partnership that turned vision
ipto reality.
As spring brings forth warmer tem-
peratures and new beginnings, I urge
you to revisityour aspirations. The suc-
cess of TEDxUofM is a testament to a
student's ability to realize his goals,
even when the odds seemed stacked
against him. And if Alex could do it
during the cold, morose days of win-
ter, you can certainly do it during the
warm, sunny days of summer.
- Tommaso Pavone can be
reached at tpavone@umich.edu.

Rinse and reconsider

Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor.
Letters should be fewer than 300 words and must include the writer's full name
and University affiliation. Letters are edited for style, length, clarity and accuracy.
All submissions become property of the Daily.
We do not print anonymous letters.
Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.

On Thursday, I returned to my room after a
busy afternoon of classes and unloaded my book
bag. My attention focused on one of my three
roommates, Rachel, who sat on the floor with a
look of disgust. After asking her what was wrong,
she replied, "I justbought this new Garnier Fruc-
tis shampoo and conditioner and Clean and Clear
face wash, but I found out these companies test
on animals! Should I throw them away?" Her
question sparked my curiosity. I thought back to
my own products: Pantene shampoo, Neutrogena
facial cream cleanser, Crest toothpaste, Lanc6me
facial cream, etc. I ran to my laptop to research
the brands for which I had once thought myself
a loyal consumer.
Shockingly, I discovered that many of the
products I purchase are smaller companies
under the major umbrella company of Procter &
Gamble - a big player in animal testing, accord-
ing to the People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals. Even the Tide I used for my laundry
detergent tested their products on animals.
Instead of seething, I focused my attention on
researching and educating myself about animal
testing through a PETA website and finding
alternative products to use that didn't participate
in animal testing. As an avid Burt's Bees custom-
er, I will admit I had a little moment of joy to see
that they didn't test on animals.
Fortunately, the list of companies that didn't
test on animals vastly outnumbered the amount
of companies that did test on animals. I found
affordable alternatives with Revlon, Kiss my
Face, Paul Mitchell, Aveda and Nature's Best.
Through a little investigation, I've learned
that you can't go on face value. A lot of companies
claim to be humane and green but don't follow
the appropriate procedures. For example, natu-
ral-looking containers can be alluring and look
legitimate to consumers. But many companies
will advertise the fact that a particular product
(face wash, shampoo, etc.) is not animal tested
while other products of the same line are. Labels
are designed to convey a positive image, not pub-
licize a company's practices.
Legally, the 1966 Animal Welfare Act requires
the "humane care, handling, treatment and trans-
portation of some animals in certain situations,"
according to the animal rights group In Defense
of Animals. However effective the act may have

been, the success rate is undermined by the act's
exclusion of cold-blooded animals and failure to
protectany animal usedfor experimental means.
According to the IDA, "the Animal Welfare Act
does not protect animals during an experiment,
regardless of how painful or even unnecessary
it is." Poor enforcement of the act's regulations
in recent years demands scrutiny. Recently, all
types of media have highlighted those who shirk
the standards of the act, including a spotlight on
our own beloved University Health System.
According to a February 2009 article in the
Daily, the University has come under pressure
from the Physicians Committee for Responsible
Medicine for alleged violations of the Animal
Welfare Act ('U' under pressure for dog testing,
01/14/2009). The accusations and a formal com-
plaint by the USDA proved true. A professor of
surgery from the University Medical School had
been using live dogs during life-saving surgery
simulations and procedural practice. The dogs
underwent surgeries by the training students
and were euthanized shortly afterward. The pro-
fessor, Dr. Richard Burney, claimed that his prac-
tices hadbeen approvedby the American College
of Surgeons.
Though the experimental use of animals isn't
illegal, it isn't necessary. Our University suppos-
edly holds itself to high standards in ethical mat-
ters, but the University shouldn't ignore ethics
pertaining to animal rights. There was no reason
alternative methods weren't employed for the
same goal all along, especially since the Univer-
sity has been financially-capable of using other
methods, like the TraumaMan System, a replica
human body capable of undergoing realistic sur-
gical procedures for teaching purposes that the
University now uses.
When dealing with strategic company adver-
tisements, it's important that they are looked
at with skepticism. In order to make informed
decisions, do a little research yourself and see
what kind of practices you are really supporting
through your purchases and if it aligns with your
own values. As innocent as you may think pur-
chasing your next bottle of shampoo or laundry
detergent is, knowing that a living being suffered
for your purchase may change your mind.
Adrianna Bojrab is an LSA sophomore.

Back to (summer) school

'm swamped. I have four papers,
each more than six pages, due in
the next week-and-a-half and a
final the week after
that. But what
keeps me going
through the con-
stant pressure and
sleep deprivation
is the thought of
summer break just ,
around the corner.
I can almost taste _
it. As I type fran- RACHEL
tically away at my VAN GILDER
laptop, I console
myself by conjur-
ing up visions of
my summer plans in my mind. I'm
finally going to finish "Robinson
Crusoe," buy a new bathing suit so I
can lounge by the pool to get a foxy
tan and visit my older sister in Flor-
ida. It's going to be a sweet, relaxing
summer straight out of an F. Scott
Fitzgerald novel.
Oh, yeah. And I'm going to take a
class this summer here at the Uni-
versity. I'm actually kind of psyched
about it.
Yes, I know I was just complaining
about school - it's my prerogative as a
(very busy) college student, just like it's
yours. Yes, I know that taking classes
during the summer is a total drag for
most people. But learning is my pas-
sion. And I think that summer classes
are actually better than classes during
the regular year in some ways.
The University offers three terms
during the time that most students
are away. There's spring term, which
will last from May 3to June 25 for the
College of Literature, Science and the
Arts this year. Then there's summer
term from June 29 to Aug. 20, and
finally spring/summer term, which
stretches across the spring and sum-
mer terms. That gives students a lot
of scheduling options.

There are also a fair amount of
classes available. The College of LSA
expanded the amount and type of
classes it offers over spring and sum-
mer semesters last year in response
to increased demand from students.
Between 2007 and 2009, the number
of students enrolling for a full sched-
ule during spring and summer terms
increased by 9 percent, according to
a June 15 report by The Ann Arbor
News. According to the article, many
students are taking more summer
classes in order to fulfill require-
ments for double majors or to com-
pensate for studying abroad.
I'm taking a class this summer
so that I'll be able to finish up all of
my major and certification minor
requirements by the end of the fall
2010 semester so that I can spend
winter 2011 student teaching. And
this isn't my first time. Last year, I
took six credits during spring term
and four during summer term. This
year, I'm taking a measly three cred-
its during summer term. And I'm
looking forward to it.
That's because I think that sum-
mer courses can give students some
opportunities that they don't get dur-
ing the regular school year. For one,
most students have a lighter work-
load. And summer classes have a less
intense atmosphere that takes off
some of the pressure. These factors
allow students to learn without feel-
ing like the stakes are so high.
And class sizes are smaller by
default, which makes access to the
professor easier. My experience last
summer taught me that this can be
great. I took two two-credit courses
with my favorite teacher here at the
University, Professor Douglas Trevor,
an associate professor of early modern
literature in the English Department.
I'd already taken classes taught by
him twice during the regular school
year, but they'd been lectures. I pretty

much love this guy, so the opportunity
to interact with him in a much smaller,
more personal setting was enlighten-
ing. I learned a ton about the incred-
ibly dense and pedantic John Milton
(the poet who wrote "Paradise Lost",
for you non-English majors) - way
more than I think I would have in a
large lecture.
I can't wait to tan
poolside with my #
history textbook.
Granted, spring and summer class-
es can also be intensive. Many con-
dense a four-credit course usually
taught in 14 weeks into 7 weeks. That
means longer class periods and much
more information to be absorbed in a
short amount of time. I took History
240, the World Since 1492 (which,
you may recall, is the year Columbus
sailed the ocean blue), last spring.
Class was three hours long, and there
was one day that we covered 150
years in three countries in a single
class period. By the end, my brain
was numb.
But for the most part, I think the
good outweighs the bad. The laid-back
atmosphere of classes and the chance
to interact more closely with profes-
sors make classes a great way for a
nerd like me to spend the summer.
So this summer as I'm lounging by
the pool in my cute new suit, I'll be
reading the text for the history class
in which I'm enrolled. But only after
I get "Crusoe" out of the way.
- Rachel Van Gilder is the Daily's
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at rachelvg@umich.edu.

Nina Amilineni, Jordan Birnholtz, Adrianna Bojrab, William Butler,
Nicholas Clift, Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Robert Soave, Radhika Upadhyaya, Laura Veith


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