As we discussed in the last post, first year Honor Academy interns are required to raise $8,400 to complete their program. If an intern fails to stay on the required financial “donation” schedule, they are sent on a fundraising trip. If they are still unable to come up with the funds, they are sent home.
Is this ethical behavior by Teen Mania?
If all of the required “donations” that an intern raised went specifically to their housing, food and other associated program costs, I believe Teen Mania might be justified in dismissing their interns. After all, somebody has to foot the bill for the dorms, the electric bills, the cafeteria food, etc. The reason I say that Teen Mania might be justified is that the intern also works around 30 hours per week (and sometimes more) for FREE. If that were not the case, I think it would be clear that Teen Mania is well within its rights to dismiss an unpaying intern.
A recent director level Teen Mania employee publicly stated that:
“42% of the intern tuition is “net excess” (basically meaning that 42% of their tuition amount was profit that can be diverted to other parts of the ministry).”
He went on to explain:
“And, about that 42% net excess figure that I threw out, keep in mind that the amount of $ TMM spends on it’s interns per meal is less than the Texas penitentiary system spends on it’s inmates per meal. So, that puts into perspective of how valuable an intern is to the bottom line and function of the organization.”
Given the fact that 42% of the money that interns are REQUIRED to “donate” is pure profit to the ministry, I think it is wrong that they would financially dismiss any intern.
Teen Mania profits twice on every intern: on their free labor and on their “donations.” This is especially sad considering that many interns do not come from wealthy families and are not allowed to hold outside jobs. In fact, many interns barely scrape by – they wash their clothes in the sink because they don’t have quarters for laundry, they literally go door to door to beg for money so they can stay at the internship, etc.
I would also like to remind you that in the past Teen Mania has failed to provide soap and toilet paper in the dorm bathrooms – and when questioned about it, Dave Hasz told the interns to buy their own.
So, just to recap: Interns are not allowed to hold outside jobs, many of them end up essentially begging for money, their “tuition” payments fail to cover essentials like toilet paper, soap and healthy, nutritious food all while Teen Mania diverts 42% of their payments to other areas of the organization. I would imagine that those “other areas” sometime include staff salaries…
Meanwhile, Dave Hasz goes home each night to his $400,000 home (in East Texas that is basically a mansion) and Ron Luce has enjoyed a six figure income for over a decade.