• Sun. May 29th, 2022

Health Administration

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ASI approves internship reimbursement funds, provides GAC updates

Senators discussed an internship reimbursement program proposal during and updates to gender-affirming care (GAC) in Fresno State during the April 6 Associated Students Inc. (ASI) senate meeting. 

Sen. Alison Garibay proposed an action item that would allow students to be reimbursed for materials bought for their internship. 

Fresno State students who have internships, student placements, fellowships or something similar can show what they’ve paid to the reimbursement program and get up to $100 back. 

“Internships can open so many doors for students… but can come with extra costs. Internships exploit students for free labor, and finding paid internships [is] extremely competitive,” Garibay said.

Garibay said she’s been working on this reimbursement program for the past few months, inspired by nursing students who pay out of pocket for clinical items, social work students who help the unhoused community and physical therapists who aid injured soldiers.

But she then realized the program’s broader potential to help all students with an internship. She highlighted the importance of internships for students like herself, saying it is “the key component in securing [her] dream job.”’

“Pre-med scribes are working eight-to-10-hour shifts that need scrubs. Art students may need that portfolio that will help propel them into a once-in-a-life position. And maybe an engineering student needs one more specialized tool,” Garibay said. 

Garibay said reimbursements are preferred over a scholarship or grant because they don’t affect students’ financial aid. The program would go through the ASI academic committee.

ASI Vice President of Finance Anou Vang said this will be a “pilot test” to see students’ interest, and ASI will need to discuss it again in deciding whether or not it will be an ongoing program. 

Garibay hopes this becomes a model for a bigger reimbursement program; to grow beyond ASI and become a university program to help as many students as possible. 

“This can go anywhere, but I would love to see it go into $30,000-$50,000 in the future, maybe like 5-10 years from now,” Garibay said.

ASI approved $15,000 toward the internship reimbursement program. 

Fresno State professor Katherine Fobear spoke to the senate council about GAC updates at the university and the Student Health and Counseling Center (SHCC), presenting a plan created by the administration, faculty and staff.

“What’s really wonderful about it is the commitment to providing comprehensive [GAC]. This is an incredible victory here at Fresno State, and it’s going to serve so many of our trans and non-binary students,” Fobear said.

She said counselors and staff at the university will receive additional training in GAC care. The SHCC will also provide hormone replacement therapy (HRT) services.

The SHCC website will be updated to add “medical counseling, representation and communication with the gender-affirming subcommittee,” Fobear said. Positions will also be added to the staff.

A physical specialist will be added for HRT along with counselors, a case manager and a student liaison from the Cross-Cultural and Gender Center. The liaison will coordinate with both centers for future “programming, assessments and educational opportunities,” Fobear noted.

“Being an LGBTQIA+ student myself, I think providing this equity is crucial, and knowing that we go and get services… it’s also important to make sure that we can reach this very siloed group,” ASI President D’Aungillique Jackson said.

“If they’re paying student fees, they [should] use the SHCC the same way everybody else can.”

Jackson also presented a discussion item for a senator pay initiative, allowing ASI senators to get a steady income for their work.

She noted how other CSUs pay their senators and suggested an estimate of $80,000 to pay each member $500 a month, $250 bi-weekly. 

“The point of this is to make access to ASI more equitable [and] to encourage students who may not have the financial capability because they do have to work full-time jobs and can’t dedicate all the time they need [to ASI],” Jackson said.

She also made it clear that this would be coming from the money ASI already pulls from the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships aid and student fees. Jackson said the Human Resource department approved next year’s budget to include the $80,000.

ASI senators are expected to be paid through a stipend, but the council can’t add it to its bylaws until it’s approved, according to Jackson.

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