The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday April 17th

Letters to the editor: Unpaid internships and living wages

DTH Photo Illustration. Unpaid internships are still legal and advertise experience but do not provide monetary compensation.
Buy Photos DTH Photo Illustration. Unpaid internships are still legal and advertise experience but do not provide monetary compensation.

UNC must take a stand against unpaid internships

Re: your March 25 editorial, “Unpaid internships are a gatekeeper for underrepresented students”:

Thank you for bringing to the campus public’s attention this persistent problem. Your proposed solution — that businesses be required by law to pay interns and that private philanthropy in such forms as the Carolina Covenant should underwrite unpaid internships for students from underrepresented groups — is half right.

Corporations and other businesses that do not pay student interns commit theft, and those who defend the practice by saying that unpaid interns reap the benefits of experience and contacts clearly have never tried to feed or house themselves with these things. Wage theft by corporations and other businesses in the form of unpaid internships should be ended by law or regulation. I wish the editorial had ended with that thought.

The University needs to take a stand against unpaid internships, not make their continued existence possible by subsidizing the practice through means-tested grants to students who might find it difficult to spend a summer without pay. Surely, for example, University Career Services could exert its influence with businesses that wish to recruit on campus to end unpaid internships. Other parts of the University ought to be able to take similar actions. 

The University needs to be in the business of ending such theft, not enabling it.

Kenneth Janken

Professor

Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies

N.C. lawmakers must raise the minimum wage

At Orange County Living Wage, we’re proud to partner with local employers, employees and community members to fight for living wages in our county. During these economically turbulent times and beyond, living wages not only keep workers afloat and self-sufficient, but also ensure that businesses operate with motivated, dignified personnel. Compare the living wage to the minimum wage, which has stagnated at $7.25 per hour for more than 11 years: forget workers staying afloat and achieving economic self-sufficiency, forget motivation and dignity in the workplace and forget economic justice for all. 

Twenty-eight red, blue and purple states across the country have found a way to raise their minimum wages. It’s time for North Carolina to follow suit. It’s time that we call on our elected officials to make living wages and economic justice a reality for all North Carolinians.

Orange County Living Wage

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