Reform HOD Capstone

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Peabody College promotes HOD Capstone as a unique and enriching experience for its students. In reality, HOD majors are expected to find and complete an internship while continuing to take Vanderbilt classes and pay full Vanderbilt tuition. The combination of requiring students to find an internship on their own, work while paying full tuition, organize transportation independently, and take accompanying coursework results in a major that is inaccessible to many students.

    Furthermore, HOD Capstone perpetuates the unchecked injustice of unpaid internships. A Business News Daily article explains, “Unpaid internships can be of great detriment to social mobility... Students who cannot afford to work for free are also affected. For such students, the price of an unpaid internship is not just time, but the opportunity cost of the wages they could be earning in another part-time or full-time role. Upon graduation, when these students are outcompeted by those who had the support for an unpaid internship, their disadvantage becomes even greater.” While the HOD department does allow its students to find paid internships, this wage does little to counteract the high cost of attendance at Vanderbilt. Presumably, a student’s parents would pay tuition costs while the student works for free. Herein, the inequality is aggressively clear. 

Ways in which HOD Capstone can begin reform: 

-Allow flexibility. Students should be able to build an enrichment experience that works best for them and their future career. 
-Provide transportation and/or significantly decrease the cost of on-campus parking (its nearly $800 per semester). 
-Reduce tuition for students during their Capstone semester. 
-Introduce significantly more scholarships/stipends for Capstone students.

-Open a forum to discuss experiences with current and former Capstone students 

-Do more to find paid internship opportunities for students, especially minority and LGBTQ+ students. 
-Stop assuming Vanderbilt students can pay to work. 
-Reexamine the content of the four courses taken alongside the internship to ensure the lessons are enriching, not time-wasting.  
-Rework the entirety of the HOD department with updated policies which are compatible with a large student body.
-Practice what you preach by recognizing the systemic issues within HOD and the creative solutions its students have suggested in order to fix it.