Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

54° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Letter to the Editor: Don’t shed tears for Conde Nast’s unpaid internships

Weinberg sophomore Leanna Smith posted her regrets about the end of unpaid student internships at Conde Nast. Cheering for their demise is a more appropriate response. Unpaid internships and residencies (as Medill calls them) exploit vulnerable students in a weak job market. If Conde Nast can pay media stars like Anna Wintour and Graydon Carter seven-figure salaries, it can pay students $7.25 an hour. Two federal judges ruled that student interns must be paid federal minimum wage. More cases are pending, including one against Conde Nast, which is probably why it ended unpaid student internships. Ms. Smith, a premed student, said she enjoyed watching photo sessions, joining editorial meetings and eating kale sandwiches in the employee cafeteria. But another NU Conde Nast intern, Medill student Rosana Lai, told The New York Times that while she gained valuable experience, she would have appreciated getting paid for her work during those three months. Why not?

There’s another strong reason to end unpaid internships: legal protection in the workplace. A New York federal judge dismissed an intern’s lawsuit charging a media firm with sexual harassment because only paid workers are covered by the city’s human rights law. The U.S. Civil Rights Act says only paid workers are considered employees, with the right to sue their employers. Unpaid interns have no legal recourse against workplace abuse.

Campus outrage against unpaid internships is rising. More than 1,000 New York University students demanded that NYU stop posting such internships and recruiting students for them. Northwestern students must do the same and refuse to participate in unpaid internships and residencies. Tell your faculty, administrators and potential employers: “No Pay, No Way.”

Dick Reif is a Medill graduate (MSJ ’64) and a board member of Medill’s New York Alumni Club.

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Letter to the Editor: Don’t shed tears for Conde Nast’s unpaid internships