'Opposing weightism' can earn students academic credits at UNH

The University of New Hampshire is currently seeking unpaid interns to “advance fat acceptance as a key social justice issue” in society.  

The “People Opposing Weightism” (POW!) group, which formed under the UNH Women’s Studies department in 2013, is seeking student interns willing to work 150 hours during the upcoming semester to fight against “weight bias, fatphobia, and body-policing,” according to the program’s website.

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Access to the page has been restricted since Campus Reform first began inquiring about it, but an archived version shows that interns will be expected to plan and host “fat-positive social events,” create “policy to end discrimination on the basis of weight,” and work with other student diversity groups on campus to “advance fat acceptance as a key social justice issue.”

While each intern will work with a supervisor to create a specific action plan, a list of possible duties indicates that they could also be dispatched for projects such as “assessing the campus environment to determine the level of accessibility for people of size” or conducting research on how fat students and faculty feel about the “campus climate for people of size.”

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Although the internship is unpaid, students can enroll through an “Internship in Women’s Studies” course in order to earn four academic credits, provided they also attend the course’s seminars.

UNH notes that each academic credit for students admitted to a degree program costs $600 for residents of New Hampshire, and $1,210 for out of state students. Therefore, for a part-time student who does not have a comprehensive tuition plan, the 4 credits earned from the POW! internship would cost between $2,400-$4,840, depending on residency.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Joelle Ruby Ryan, a lecturer at UNH and self-described activist with experience in “ Social Justice Education, Fat Acceptance, Anti-Looksism, Anti-Weightism, Anti-Fatphobia,” and “Trans-Feminism, Gender Equality, [and] Pro-Choice Activism,” founded POW! in 2013.

[RELATED: 'Fat Studies' course deems 'weightism' a 'social justice issue']

UNH did not immediately respond to Campus Reform’s request to clarify if students are required to pay for the credits they will earn from their unpaid internship.

Campus Reform also reached out to Ryan to learn more about the POW! group, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

UPDATE: Following publication of this article, Campus Reform received a statement from UNH Director of Media Relations Erika Mantz explaining that the POW! webpage has been taken down because "the group disbanded last spring and the internship is no longer being offered."

Campus Reform has followed up to request additional details, and will update this article with any new information that is provided.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen