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Capitol interns attend sexual harassment seminar

January 26, 1998
By: Emily Goodin
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - As allegations of misconduct involving a former White House intern continued to fly around President Bill Clinton, college interns at the Missouri State Capitol attended a seminar on how to deal with sexual harassment.

The hour-long seminar educated interns on how to deal with sexual harassment and the proper procedures for filing a complaint.

All interns are required to attend Monday's or today's session.

"Our grade depends on it," said intern Melissa Buckman, a senior at Southwest Missouri State University.

Sessions may be mandatory for interns, but they're not for legislators.

"Sexual harassment seminars have been in place a long time," said Democratic intern coordinator Rep. Deleta Williams. "That's nothing new."

Capital interns come from across the state to experience state government in action.

The internships are either full or part-time and unpaid. Duties usually include office work, research and attending committee meetings.

Most interns are chosen through a university program that works directly with a legislator. Some call their local legislator to request a position.

But despite the scandal in Washington D.C., most interns feel protected.

"They make sure we go to the sexual harassment seminar," Buckman said.

Williams said in her two and a half years as coordinator she's not heard of sexual harassment problem.

"That doesn't mean it's not out there but it's not been brought to our attention," she said.

There are about a 100 interns in the statehouse, including Shawn Palmer, also a senior at SMSU.

He doesn't see the scandal hurting internship programs.

"I wish more people would do it," Palmer said. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."