Credit where it's due

Chapel Hill Town Council Member Bill Thorpe is proposing an internship program as a way to get more students engaged in local government. Personally I have supported every proposal I've ever heard to get students involved locally, including reserving seats on town advisory boards to be filled by current students.

Thorpe takes a different approach, offering academic credit and plugging them in on the staff side instead of the leadership side. Still, it could help, or maybe even lead to other opportunities.

Thorpe hopes students will be able to earn college credit and be compensated for their experience.

"What I'm doing is asking the town to certify their internship program, hooking up with the University for the students to receive credit."

Currently, the town hires interns throughout the year and provides monetary compensation but not academic credit.

Thorpe envisions that interns would be able to work in any town department.

He hopes to have about eight to 10 internship spots that would be open to students of all majors.
- Daily Tarheel: Internship idea moves along, 1/23/06

Will this be a way to involve student leadership in local issues, or just a resume-stuffer? What do y'all think? (I'd especially like to hear from you undergraduate lurkers - you know who you are...)



Couldn't the town put in an APPLES application, in order to have students work on the staff side?

What is Service-Learning?
Service-Learning is:
* A method by which students learn through active participation in thoughtfully organized service.
* An activity conducted in, and meeting the needs of, the community.
* A program integrated into and enhancing academic curriculum, which includes a structured time for reflection and helps foster civic responsibility.

On another note - how do you make bullets on this site?

I've hired Carolina and Central law students as paid interns at my office at the General Assembly every summer for the last decade, and have found the internships to be useful both to my office and to the student. This summer I'm going to try out graduate students as well as law students for the first time.
I've had one or two inquiries about doing a semester-long internship for credit (rather than pay) but have never worked out the details. I'd think a program like Bill Thorpe is suggesting would be a great idea for the town and for the student as well.

Any reason why high school students couldn't be involved also?

Just FYI...

The Tar Heel in The Daily Tar Heel should be two words.

I'm glad Bill is running with this idea, but the internship program is not a new issue. Several candidates during the recent election cycle floated various versions of one kind of another.

I think lowering the bar to greater participation for all folk should be the top priority, complimented by programs like this...

I was looking back over some never-finished blog posts of mine from a little over a year ago, before I decided to run for Council, and found a response to Ruby's call to UNC students for more involvement. Here's one paragraph that stood out.

There is indeed a problem with student involvement with municipal politics here at UNC, but unfortunately there has been way too much effort to try and assign the blame and far too little work towards actually rectifying the problem. It seems to me that Chapel Hill and Carrboro are both willing to accept student involvement, and the student leadership wants to see us involved. Unfortunately, rather than having a conversation, it feels like we're just exchanging statements. The students are saying "We want to be involved" while the town is saying "Come get involved," and neither party is taking much intiative.

Unfortunately, I don't think much of anything has changed in the past year. If anything, the situations has gotten worse on the part of us students, due partially to having the least effective student body president in recent history.

We're still not having a conversation here. I think Bill's internship is great, but, I have no delusions that it will do anything to get students involved in local issues. Placing students in internships with town staff will probably be beneficial to those students, and probably to the staff as well. It's not going to do a thing to bring "students" closer to "the town." A staff internship does not give a voice to the student body, nor does it take very much initiative on our part. It's a good first step, but on a road as long and barren as 15-501 to Pittsboro. :)

I'm glad to see Bill following through with his suggestion; I just hope people take it for what it is.

I'd love to see high school students have this type of opportunity, but logistically it would be incredibly difficult, given the general scheduling of high school classes.

Youth Creating Change, a nonprofit serving all of Orange County, has been trying to get a grant funded to put high school students into apprenticeships with local government. The grant wasn't funded for this summer, but Tom Tucker has agreed to fund 3 kids to work with him on the Greenbridge project. Members of the community, including Bill Thorpe and Fred Black, have agreed to help with the instructional component of the project, which includes helping the kids begin to understand how local government works and impacts business decisions in their town (and vice versa), as well as their personal economic and professional opportunities.

We are looking for more work opportunities for these kids, most if not all of whom reside in downtown Chapel Hill and Carrboro. If anyone is willing to give a teenager a job for this summer, a job in which they would learn about government/business relationships, please let me know. It would need to be on the bus line.

As a graduate student in the school of public health, and a member of the planning board, I think this is a great idea. Most students I meet at SPH, in the Environmental Science and Engineering Dept are working for, or have thesis projects, at the state or federal level. There seems to be a real connection lacking between certainly SPH and the town. One of the biggest frustrations I hear from students and faculty alike is the frustration of dealing with big and combursome government. I think there are many who would welcome the change of pace of working at the local level.


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