The student newspaper of Nicholls State University

Nicholls administration considers experiential learning

March 9, 2017

With a number of student employees set to lose their jobs due to the defunding of the yearbook, the University administration is discussing shifting student jobs to unpaid experiential learning opportunities.

Fifteen students currently work on the La Pirogue staff in positions including graphic designers, photographers, copy editors and other yearbook staff.

Lynn Gillette, provost and vice president for academic affairs, proposes modifying some of the experiential jobs that are already being offered on campus, like on the yearbook staff, by designing them as three-credit-hour courses.

“If the experiential learning opportunity offers an incredibly valuable learning experience, it does not need to be paid,” Gillette said. “I’ve been at places where the most prized internships were unpaid.”

Experiential learning comprises all activities in which students develop knowledge, skills and values from direct experiences outside of a traditional academic setting and is usually an unpaid position. It is a hands-on, real world experiences that give students a chance to learn by “doing.”

“I’m not against student’s income, but I think, as an institution, we can be more creative about designing fantastic learning experiences for students,” Gillette said.

There are roughly 400 student employment jobs currently available to students at Nicholls. Modifying current student employment positions into experiential learning positions could affect a large amount of those jobs.

“I feel that if I’m not going to be paid for my job, then neither should the workers in the tutoring center or those who work in the rec center because those are learning opportunities for education majors and athletic training majors as well,” Hollyn Millet, La Pirogue editor, said. “All of these jobs can be argued as experiential learning.”

Jashinna Henderson, financial aid counselor, explained how most of the student employment jobs offered at Nicholls could be considered experiential since most students work within the departments of the field in which they study.

“It would affect a lot of students if experiential learning jobs were unpaid,” Henderson said. “A lot of students use that income to help pay for college. It helps them get through.”

John Doucet, dean of the college of arts and sciences, met with the yearbook staff on March 6th to discuss the future of the yearbook staff. In the meeting he discussed the possibility of making the yearbook into a six-month unpaid internship opportunity.

Millet pointed out that this solution might not be viable, since it takes longer than a single semester to produce the yearbook. In her opinion, having two editors producing an edition of the La Pirogue could create a consistency issue.

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