UA recruiting ‘feminist’ interns to fight ‘heterosexism’

The University of Arizona (UA) is recruiting “feminist” interns to help fight “racism, classism, sexism, ableism, and heterosexism” on campus.

Hosted by the school’s Women’s Center, the FORCE: Feminists Organized to Resist, Create, and Empower program recruits student interns each semester to help create a “feminist community” and host educational programs for UA students.

“We are a collective of feminist, social justice oriented individuals dedicated to raising awareness on issues of gender and inequality,” the program description notes, adding that the group seeks to nurture “activism, events, and consciousness-raising engagement” on campus.

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Events hosted by FORCE in the past include an even titled “Deconstructing Cisnormativity,” a discussion designed to tackle the “taboo” surrounding abortion, and another dedicated to making crafts out of expired condoms provided by the UA Women’s Center.

FORCE interns also plan the school’s annual SlutWalk, which is attended by several hundred students every year, and organize an ongoing series called “Sip and Bitch,” where students who are “BOLD, not bitter” make arts and crafts while talking about political issues.

Following a new trend that Campus Reform has observed at other colleges, FORCE interns will actually need to pay for their unpaid internship, since they must enroll in a three-credit course hosted by the Women’s Studies Department as a condition of enrollment.

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Thus, the unpaid internship will cost in-state students roughly $3,029 and out of state students $4,888.05, according to UA’s tuition calculator. Chris Sigurdson, the school’s media officer, confirmed to Campus Reform that students must “pay for all academic credit they receive and that includes credit they receive for internships.”

In addition to FORCE, the school also recruits interns to conduct workshops on "rape culture" and promote discussions on whether "consent can be given if alcohol is present” through a program called SPEAC: Students Promoting Empowerment and Consent.

The FORCE program is funded by the school’s mandatory $75 student fee, which students must pay each semester. Over the course of a standard four-year degree, that fee amounts to at least $600, and goes into a general pot of funds for all student clubs.

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Sigurdson defended the internship program in a statement to Campus Reform.

“As with any internship taken for credit and overseen by a professor, students get professional experience, do work that is meaningful to them, and take a deeper dive into reflecting on what they’ve learned and discovered through papers and projects,” he said.

Campus Reform scheduled an interview with FORCE member Olivia Fontes, but she later cancelled, saying she was unable to speak with media about the matter, and directed Campus Reform to contact Sigurdson instead.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen