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April 11, 2011

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Putnam County up for Winter Storm Aid

Putnam County is in line to receive money for damage repairs caused by this winter’s severe storms. President of Putnam County Commission, Gene Beck, says one hundred and forty thousand dollars was requested for the damage cause by the ice storm. Another four hundred fifty thousand dollars was requested for flood damage to gravel and asphalt roads. Beck says this grant will be received from the federal government, but the state has to approve it first. Beck explains what this money will be used for if the grant is approved.

BECK: "The $140,000 for the ice storm will be spent to rebuild our salt or chloride or salt that we used on the roads and also the sand. And the $450,000 will be used to put back in our stone and asphalt procreation of the highway."

This grant will help Putnam County restore equipment used in this winter’s severe storms. Beck says that though this grant does not cover the damage done to the roads because of the severe weather, funding from the county is taking care of this.

Unpaid Internships Seem to Skirt Labor Laws, but Not a New Phenomenon

Each year hundreds of DePauw students complete off campus internships. Some work as close as Indianapolis, and others venture to New York, New Delhi, and Rome. While some students are compensated for their work, many spend long office hours unpaid. DePauw’s Director of Professional Opportunities, Steve Langerud, said many students are not only working unpaid internships, but are paying thousands of dollars out of pocket to receive course credit.

LANGERUD: if they don’t get paid, then they have to get credit. And if they have to get credit, that means they have to pay for the credit. So the net effect is, a student’s doing an unpaid internship, usually in a city that’s not their home, where they have to find housing, they have to feed themselves, they have to have transportation, and on top of that they are paying full tuition to the institution. Which, as a learning experience is okay, you should pay for credit. But, this becomes a very expensive and I think exclusionary proposition for a lot of students.

The Department of Labor holds that students may not work without pay for profit-seeking companies. Labor laws also require that the company not make any direct profit or sizable benefit from the intern’s work. The current model upheld by DePauw and other institutions seems to stand in violation of both principles, but Langerud said this is not a new or rare phenomenon.

LANGERUD: "I mean, this goes back to the Middle Ages, actually, to the apprenticeship model, of how do people get experience? How do people become professionals? There are a lot of areas where the standard has been, come and pay your dues, we have so many people who want to do this that we don’t have to pay so we are going to vet candidates by the ones who show up. So, if you show up, and you do a good job, you have a high likelihood of being hired."

Langerud said he does not see the model changing drastically in the coming years, although minor changes are being proposed to DePauw’s current program. He hopes to introduce a part-time internship system in which students will live on campus, take classes and complete an internship two or three days a week. He said this could give students an opportunity to intern who may not be able to afford a full semester off campus while paying full tuition.

Earth Week

The DePauw Environmental Club is hosting Earth Week April 18th through the 22nd. Each day will have a different focus such as climate change or building sustainable communities. Environmental Club President Tyler Hess says Earth Week will promote environmental awareness on DePauw’s Campus. The focus will be on environmental aspects that affect the campus directly such as where DePauw’s food and energy come from. Hess says Earth Week should bring more power to the Climate Action Plan the University signed. This plan commits DePauw to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The presentations will introduce students, faculty, staff, and the Greencastle community to alternative energy sources.

HESS: "A lot of us understand the harm that we may cause through coal energy but we don’t necessarily know the options, the alternatives. So the events will really help people understand that there are better circumstances to organize ourselves around."

In the past, events have been posted online, and not brought to students’ attention. This year, Earth Week will focus on visuals more than events. Hess says with more pictures and interactive displays, the club hopes to clear up confusion and get more students involved.

Family Support Services Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. The staff of Putnam County Family Support Services wants to inform the public about the effects of sexual assault. Domestic Violence Advocate, Terri Scott, says the staff has held sessions about safe dating in local high schools. They have also given public service announcements on the radio. The staff held a day of action last Thursday in Greencastle town square. They gave out ribbons and leaflets and displayed posters in the courthouse. The posters were created by a support group for victims of domestic violence. Program manager, Elizabeth Butts, says Family Services helped around 25 victims of sexual assault last year. Butts also says sexual assault goes unreported because it is subject people often don’t want to discuss.

The organization is funded by state and federal grants. It is located on West Washington Street in Greencastle.

Copyright 2011, WGRE