Skip to main content

The executive branch presented a piece of legislation to the Aug. 30 senate meeting to change the ASUN Internship into the ASUN Partnership, which caused an at length discussion about the change; mostly because the shift had already been reflected in promotional materials, unbeknownst to the senate body.

The piece of legislation was submitted by Aween Ali, senator for the College of Engineering, on behalf of Hannah Dayna Alquiza, the vice president of the ASUN, and Isabella Hatt, the director of executive affairs.

The two, Alquiza and Hatt, said they brought this piece forward to get rid of the “belittling” title of being called an intern versus a partner. Having a title like this would allow the interns to “feel like they were meant to be there” according to Alquiza and Hatt.

However, the legislation caused much discourse, even after many public commenters came forward supporting the name change to partnership, including Boris Carpio Guerra, ASUN president, Arthur-James Okwuosa, director of IDEA and Alexia Walck, assistant director of IDEA.

Joel Martin, senator for the College of Liberal Arts pointed out that the executive branch already put the name “partnership” on the website, on the application, on their Instagram page and other platforms, without consulting the senate body first, essentially going over the system of “checks and balances.”

The webpage for the ASUN Partnership Program, formerly titled ASUN Internship Program

“It should’ve been brought to us; if anything, it should’ve been for the next session,” Martin said to the senate table. “When you cast your vote, just remember that.”

Martin added later in the meeting: “personally I think if we vote yes on this, we’re giving them the a-okay that they can go behind legislation’s back on this.”

Tori Beaulac, senator for the College of Science, echoed Martin’s point that the name change on the site and application before proposing legislation “sets a precedent that the executive board can make a change” without consulting the senate, and is subsequently “dangerous.”

Additionally, promotional materials and brochures had been made and paid for through ASUN’s marketing department, Inkblot, although they did not have a number on how much it cost. Hatt and Alquiza said the executive branch has jurisdiction over marketing and wanted to get the process started, hence the change, but many at the senate table disagreed.

Beaulac also said the name change does not change anything else internally.

“When I see a name change and nothing else changes, I see a cover up job,” Beaulac said. 

Frobes echoed this sentiment, saying it would be “a great piece to see” in the future, but ultimately is unfinished due to the lack of change “behind the scenes. 

“This is a step towards creating that change,” Hatt argued in return. “We could obviously add more to this piece of legislation, but from our eyes the term partner is a much more value-based approach to creating that feeling in the program.”

Jefrin Jojan, senator for the College of Engineering argued he couldn’t find any evidence on the “negative” connotation of the word internship, even saying it is more “valuable” to future employers, while “partnership” confuses things. He emphasized an effort in trying to pay the interns before they jump on a name change and is currently uncomfortable with the legislation, to which Martin agreed.  

“I think this doesn’t really cut towards the issues,” Jojan said. “Let me tell you, from someone of a minority background, it means so much more to me for it to be an internship being paid instead of an unpaid partnership.”

Aween Ali, senator for the College of Engineering, on the side for the legislation, argues the mentor and an intern dynamic reinforces the idea of one person being in charge of the other. Ali told the table about her own experience as an intern and how since she was given equal opportunities to help senators, so the term partner could be a better description for the job. 

“I feel like partner would be a much more appropriate term,” Ali said. “To break [the] intimidation, having that word partner can help. We want to be approachable, we don’t want to scare them away … They’re still people.”

Alquiza also reminds the table that this piece of legislation is aimed towards people of color. She uses the comparison of the change from “homelessness” to “unhoused” people being the same as the change from internship to partnership and the name change will bring the same amount of treatment difference.

However, Jojan said the “homelessness” to “unhoused” change has proven research backing it, but under his search he could not find any evidence to support the negativity behind the term internship. 

Jojan then brought back up the topic of paying the interns.

“If [the interns] are doing all this great work why aren’t we paying them,” he said. “Isn’t ASUN just exploiting unpaid labor at this point?”

After reiterating this point, he proposed an amendment for the senators to promise to work hard to find available money to allow the interns to be paid within the next two years.

The majority of the senate body voted “no,” to which Jojan expressed his disappointment: “I really would question what’s the point of name change if we’re not going to do anything else.”

“Curious that all this stuff was printed before legislation,” Jojan added, saying this legislation should’ve been brought up during the summer before printing.

Eventually, all senators said their final words on the discussion of the legislation, and Speaker Fayza Salah called for a vote, which was a majority no. 

“Uncomfortable conversations are good,” said Alquiza, before her and Hatt thanked the table.

Due to the prolonged discussion about the name change, other talking points and agenda items were postponed to the following meeting; the senate adjourned at 7:38 p.m.

Jaedyn Young can be reached at or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3.

Correction as of Sept. 6, 7:14 p.m.: Aween Ali was the sole sponsor of the legislation. Diana Landazuri Nova was not a sponsor.

One Comment

  • Tyler Schrader says:

    I would love to see ASUN Senators care about how this could benefit students instead of being offended they can’t call their mentee an “intern.” Shows how much of a power trip these kids are on. Didn’t the senate approve these people’s plans at the beginning of the year when they were appointed?

Leave a Reply