Read Dr. Rodriguez’ full statement below:
I was disappointed to learn from your article of April 4 that a couple of Stockton students were dissatisfied with their internship experience in Washington, DC. I take concerns of our DC interns quite seriously because the internship experience has been a very positive, indeed even transformative, experience for an overwhelming majority of our DC interns. Stockton sends more students to The Washington Center than any other college/university in the country, so the quality of the internship experience is a high priority for me and The Washington Center. Between 30-40 Stockton students participate in the internship semester each academic year.
The article suggested that I did respond to a request for comment. That is not quite accurate. I was contacted in February by two reporters from The Argo within days of each other. I responded to the first request with a typed comment. As it turned out, the two requests were for separate stories, which was not immediately apparent to me. I responded via email to the second request and the reporter asked to meet via ZOOM for an interview. Unfortunately, I inadvertently did not follow-up to schedule the interview and the reporter never reached out again or explained what the article was about. I subsequently contacted the reporter and apologized for the unintended error.
When the article was brought to the attention of The Washington Center’s leadership, they directed the relevant offices to respond in writing to how the complaints were handled. I received a detailed account of those responses, especially those relating to housing, and am assured that they were addressed and resolved in an appropriate and timely manner. I also conferred with my contacts at the Washington Center regarding the concerns raised by the two interns highlighted in the article.
The COVID-19 pandemic posed several challenges over the past two years for the Washington Internship Program. Several internships were not available on an in-person basis; many students undertook virtual internships. The residential building where interns live in Washington instituted necessary protocols to protect the health and well-being of interns in the building. The Washington Center maintained a 24/7 system for students to report any housing issues, e.g., problems with appliances, etc. Additionally, the delivery of The Washington Center’s programs for interns, like evening classes and career readiness workshops, shifted to an online modality, as we did on campus. As COVID-19 continues to recede, I am confident The Washington Center will continue adapting its programming to meet the needs of our students and help both interns and employers prepare for the future of work.
I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your article.
Michael S. Rodriguez
Professor of Political Science
Campus Liaison, the Washington Internship Program