The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars appreciates the opportunity to respond to the Youth Opinion ("Affirmative Action Isn't Affirmative," May 2) by Michael D. Lewis, a political science major at Cal State L.A. We regret any confusion that may have occurred concerning a particular program initiative. Lewis was interested in an internship on Capitol Hill. The Washington Center welcomes the opportunity to assist him in applying for and possibly securing an internship in a congressional office.
The Washington Center was established in 1975 to serve college students who seek internships in the nation's capital. Since its inception, more than 20,000 students from various ethnic, cultural, religious, racial and economic backgrounds, from more than 750 colleges and universities, have participated in its programs.
The specific program initiative he mentioned is "Minorities in Congress." These internships provide minorities with a comprehensive training and educational experience that will serve as a steppingstone for careers in public service. With the California Department of Education, two respected foundations have provided scholarships for minority college students. Cal State schools are among those involved in this and other Washington Center programs.
Recent studies indicate that only 6.3% of high-level staff positions in Congress are occupied by minorities. Placing students on Capitol Hill will help increase the number of minority staff members and result in a work force that is a true reflection of society. Each semester, however, 30 to 50 non-minority and minority students are interning on Capitol Hill through the Washington Center.
A variety of scholarships exist that are by no means limited to minorities. These include general scholarships awarded on the basis of financial need and merit.
The center is known for providing internships tailored to each student's area of interest. A congressional internship is just one placement area. Students seek internships through the center because of the academic quality and close supervision. Our programs enable students to receive academic credit for their experience.
For students who cannot be away for a semester, we offer one- and two-week academic seminars designed to study specific issues in depth.
We encourage Mr. Lewis to apply for an internship with The Washington Center. He can be assured his application will be considered according to the standards applied to all applicants.
EUGENE ALPERT, Ph.D.
Vice President for Academic Affairs
The Washington Center
For more information on The Washington Center, please call ( 800 ) 486-8921.