A new Student Government-funded capitol intern program finalized in the past month promises to bridge the gap between Tallahassee and Florida, but who is to be involved in recruiting and selecting applicants is unclear.
Two of the major parties involved in this program, SG and the Alumni Association, seem to be unsure of one another’s plans for the future of the program.
Capitol Legislative Intern Program, or CLIP, is a program in which eight USF students will get a chance to go to Tallahassee for the spring senate term and be directly involved with the legislative process, which includes the House of Representatives, the Senate and the District Attorney’s office.
“Basically what we are trying to get is an insight to Tallahassee,” Student Body Vice President Andrew Aubery said. “Get our people up there wearing our USF polos and helping the USF alumni that are in the big positions to keep pushing for USF so we can become a bigger school, a better school and get the funding we deserve.”
The program was put into place with the help of SG, the Alumni Association and the College of Arts and Sciences, and once in place should bolster ties with Tampa and the capitol.
“Ultimately some of these students will probably run for office and wind up in the halls of Tallahassee, and as you know, a lot of people vote on their alumni status,” said political science professor Susan MacManus. “The FSU and Florida contingency is declining relative to other schools and this is just another step to help USF.”
USF SG is providing $2,100 for each student selected for the program, which will cover housing and meal expenses. The Alumni Association will cover travel expenses while the College of Arts and Sciences will provide a tailored curriculum for CLIP members so they may maintain their student and scholarship status.
“They are attending classes through USF,” Aubery said. “Some (of the credit hours) are condensed courses before they go up, and some of them are classes they will take while they are up there.”
The curriculum and the financing are very clear, but the process for recruiting and selecting candidates is different depending on who is talking about it. According to student body President Bijal Chhadva, SG will be part of the entire process and will be responsible for five of the eight candidate selections. His information goes hand in hand with an information packet about CLIP given to The Oracle by SG.
“We are involved in selecting candidates,” Chhadva said. “We are going to be involved in the entire selection process.”
Aubery, however, said that SG would suggest viable candidates but would not be directly involved in picking the final eight applicants.
“(SG) will submit our five best people and those people will basically be kinda shoed in,” Aubery said. “We really haven’t determined how we are going to decide those, we are probably going to do something through senate, like an ad hoc committee.”
Another version of the selection process comes from Jeffrey Huggins, University Relations and Public Affairs Coordinator. Huggins has spearheaded this program for the Alumni Association and is responsible for establishing the contacts in Tallahassee as well as setting up the internships that are at the heart of CLIP.
Huggins said he is aware that originally there were supposed to be five candidate selections by SG, but time constraints this year have forced the parties involved to abandon the original plan. Instead, Robin Jones, an instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Kiki Caruson, a professor in the Department of International Affairs, will be screening and selecting this spring’s candidates. Ten of the candidates for this year were procured by SG and thrown into the application pool.
“Because we are under such a time crunch, we are really talking to whatever students we get,” Huggins said. “To be honest with you, we’re not overwhelmed with applicants — if everyone feels as though (the applicants) are qualified and we are happy with them, as far as the internship program, then they will be chosen to participate in this first one.”
When asked about the future of the program and whether SG would become involved in recruitment and selection, Huggins was unsure.
“I have no idea, I think what we will probably end up doing is sitting down and looking at how it went,” Huggins said. “We are going to sit down and ask if there needs to be changes.”
When presented with the discrepancy in stories, Aubery, although aware that this year was going to be different, was unaware that the future selection process of the program was still up in the air. Aubery then took it upon himself to confirm what Huggins had told The Oracle, but came back with another contradiction.
“(Next year) we do get the five people that we want, and they get the three,” Aubery said. “(This year) what we decided is whatever eight applicants we can get, whether they are SG applicants or they are applicants through the College of Arts and Sciences, we would send.”
Huggins confirmed that he talked to Aubery, but as he said before, nothing was set in stone for next year.
“We talked about it and said we would discuss it at the end of the semester,” Huggins said.
“He said he was pleased with how things were going and after the semester was over we could go over everything, and he thought that five (SG selections) and three (Alumni Association and Arts and Sciences selections) would be great and I said five-three would be fantastic, but we’ll discuss it when we get there I guess.”
Huggins said that although SG may be responsible next year for five candidates, he would encourage them to procure and suggest more than that.
“(SG) can either come up with the five applicants, but I am going to encourage them to come up with more applicants because there may be some that academically maybe don’t qualify,” Huggins said.