If all goes as planned, students who would normally turn down internships because of prohibitive costs may have the opportunity to apply for stipends starting next fall.
Details of the project have yet to be worked out, but Tufts Community Union (TCU) senators are excited now that money from this month's $100 million Omidyar donation has been set aside for an internship stipend fund.
"The money has been earmarked; it's just a question of when," said TCU Historian senior Ed Kalafarski said. A student and faculty committee has yet to be put together to work out the details of the project.
All of the donation made by Pierre and Pam Omidyar will go into a microfinance investment fund. The fund will give loans to small businesses in developing countries. Half of the interest from these loans will go back into the microfinance fund, while the other half will go back to Tufts.
"It's kind of a victory that any of the money is going to campus programs," Kalafarski said. According to Kalafarski, the expected interest return is nine percent.
There is much to be settled before the program becomes a reality for students. Despite enthusiasm from the Senate, Dean for Undergraduate Education James Glaser was cautious in his description of plans for the project.
"There are no details yet because it is too early," Glaser said. "It was just announced two weeks ago, and the president was in India, so there's plenty of things that have to happen before this goes into place."
Senator Rafi Goldberg, a senior, played a key role working with administrators to set up the internship stipend fund. Starting six months ago, he attended several meetings helping to conceptualize the program.
Fundraising for an internship stipend was originally slated to fall under the University's next capital campaign, before the news of the Omidyar donation broke.
Goldberg will not be at Tufts to witness the completion of this project, but he is happy about "the fact that the student body was able to successfully advocate for a program that's really important," he said. "It's a testament to how receptive the administration can be here."
The creation of an internship stipend fund was a central part of Goldberg's unsuccessful campaign for TCU President last spring. He wanted to do this project so less privileged students would not have to chooe between "a summer in Washington and a summer at Wal-Mart."
"We want [Tufts students] to get that real world advantage, and to have that competitive advantage in the real world," Goldberg said. He said most of the funding will probably go towards helping students in non-profit and government internships.
"It's all very preliminary," Glaser said. "I'm not even sure when the money is delivered. There's quite a bit of work we have to do."