Dear Senator Obama,
When I received an email from you (yes, from you directly, not from "The Obama Campaign" or anything like that) inviting me to apply for an Obama Organizing Fellowship, I was thrilled.
First of all, I was thrilled that you had even thought to ask me to apply in the first place. Secondly, I was very excited about the opportunity to potentially work on your campaign, thanks to the generosity of your Fellowship Program.
I'll tell you; I seriously considered applying, even though I knew that fellowships didn't tend to pay much and that it would mean living in penury a while longer. I would continue eating cheese-and-mustard sandwiches if it meant I got to work for you.
Then I clicked on the link and discovered that your fellowships were, in fact, unpaid. They also required a minimum of 30 hours/week time commitment.
Senator Obama, you do realize that asking the young people of this country (as I assumed your fellowship was intended for students, since it was a summer program only) -- you do realize that asking the young people of this country to apply for unpaid, nearly full-time positions on your campaign will only appeal to a particular subset of applicants, don't you?
Your Organizing Fellows will be a collection of the well-heeled, with a few kids here or there who are practically going bankrupt doing this and trying to hide it.
The fact that you didn't at least offer minimum wage, that you didn't at all try to make this opportunity possible for the students who have to work through the summers, who can't make it on a full-time volunteer gig, breaks my heart.
The fact that you are offering "fellowships" that in truth must be paid out by either the parents of these students or by the students' own credit cards and loans, astounds me.
No doubt this kind of thing happens all the time; asking for campaign volunteers is no big deal, in fact, and I've got no problem with that.
But you called it a fellowship, and insisted it be a full-time commitment.
Next time, just call it an unpaid internship and have done with it. At least the poor students of America won't get their hopes up.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Dear Senator Obama,