UNC students not pleased with Olympic trip

CHAPEL HILL Thirty-one students took the trip to Beijing on the premise they'd be working with the media covering the Olympics.

But, some of them say the only thing they're learning is how to stock toilet paper.

The journalism students signed up for summer jobs as assistant news and sports reporters, but one student e-mailed Eyewitness News with what they say is their job description in Beijing.

Blogging from Beijing before the Olympics, one UNC student has smiling pictures from tourist spots. But the Olympic journalism internship has not been as advertised.

"It wasn't really clear what their responsibilities were going to be," UNC School of Journalism Professor Jan Yopp said.

Some students have complained on the internet and to their parents that their Chinese managers have assigned only menial labor, like cleaning halls, checking restrooms and stocking toilet paper.

"We had heard that their duties, that they were asked to check on restrooms. They were also assigned to the help desk and help visitors," Yopp said.

UNC officials say they've received only one parent complaint. They say only seven students were initially assigned to non-journalism work.

And a UNC professor is in Beijing trying to convince the Chinese to allow all students to work with the media as originally promised.

But Scott Savitt, who spent 18 years in china as a journalist before he was jailed and deported, says UNC should not be surprised by tight control over the Olympics.

"Among China watchers, these are becoming known as the 'no fun' Olympics," Savitt said.

UNC does not think the students were intentionally misled.

It says is still a great learning experience and that the jobs will get better when the games begin.

"Sometimes, it doesn't turn out exactly the way thought it would. But move forward, be professional, and make it the best experience you can," Yopp said.

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