Corinne Kenwood / Sun Staff Photographer

Students and S.A. members debate the discontinuation of the Economics department’s CPT program at Thursday evening’s SA Meeting.

September 15, 2016

Student Assembly Tables Request for Restoration of International Student Internship Authorization

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Clarification appended

Members of the Cornell Student Assembly shared concerns about the economics department’s decision to terminate its Curricular Practical Training program — which allows international students to undertake paid internships in the U.S., at their Thursday meeting.

A resolution — sponsored by Akhilesh Issur ’17, International Student Liaison at Large —  requested that the department reconsider its CTP policy. An amendment, which asked that the department publicize its stance on the issue, was promptly withdrawn from the resolution.

The economics department formerly met CPT requirements by certifying that an internship is required by a one-credit independent study course — which the student takes the fall after the internship — according to a report co-authored by Prof. Stephen Coates, economics, and Prof. Wissink, economics.

Coate said the department currently is concerned about violating the spirit of the law, as most students use CPT to acquire summer internships that “are not integral to our major or part of our program.” He added that the department sees “little educational value” in the program, and that it gives international students an advantage over domestic students.

Issur disagreed with Coate’s cautions, arguing that Optional Practical Training — the alternative to CPT — costs money and cuts into the time during which international students can work in the United States after graduation.

He added that internships both aid students pursuing independent studies and later can help assure jobs after graduation.

“Jobs in banking and finance really require you to have broader experience … to get job offers after graduation,” he said.

Julia Montejo ’17, Minority Liaison at Large, protested that ending CPT may hurt enrollment in the College of Arts and Sciences and Cornell University, as students may choose other programs or universities that offer the same experience.

International students also need CTP so they can benefit from summer programs that their domestic peers participate in.  

“There’s an imbalance of power between domestic students and international students,” she said. “I think what the Economics DUS and AUDS contend is an advantage is in actuality one small step toward equality.”

Issur added that the students were left out of the decision-making process for eliminating CPT, and that communication between the department and students is “very lacking.”

S.A. members had decided that a proposed amendment to publicize the problems with CPT on the Economics website “sensationalizes implications excessively” and was too accusatory towards the economics department. For this reason, the amendment proposal was quickly withdrawn from the floor. The assembly unanimously voted to table the resolution until the next meeting.

Ultimately, the resolution was tabled to seek increased input from economics faculty members, who are invited to attend the next meeting. The assembly also tabled a resolution to move its Residential Life Committee to a subcommittee under the jurisdiction of its Health and Wellness Committee.

 The Sun regrets the lack of clarity in the previously published version of this article. The post has been updated to more clearly present the debate over the S.A. resolution’s amendment and illuminate why the resolution was tabled.