Editorial: Spring break: can relaxation place students in danger?

By Mallory Terrence
March 5, 2009

Spring break, a well-known college tradition, is a week when many students get away from class and any responsibilities to party in the sun. However, this year the economy has made buying plane tickets and a hotel room in popular Mexico, Jamaica or Florida, almost impossible.

Although your break may not include sandy beaches and frozen drinks, the ideal picturesque MTV spring break isn’t always feasible, and many students spend thousands on less-than-perfect vacations. Staying home or taking a more low-key trip is not the end of the world. It will not only save you money, but possibly save your life or at least avoid the risks of the many dangers in a spring break trip.

If you’re lucky enough to manage a south-of-the-boarder excursion, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. Because the truth is, spring break isn’t always perfect and not always safe.

A survey done by the American Medical Association said about 30 percent of women surveyed said spring break trips with sun and alcohol are an essential part of college life, but at what cost will you experience this once-in-a lifetime experience?

In the AMA survey, 83 percent said spring break involves heavier-than-usual drinking and 74 percent said women use spring break drinking as an excuse for “outrageous” behavior.

In 2006, the disappearance of teenaged Natalie Holloway scared many into the reality that vacations with a group of young adults could easily turn for the worse. Of course, the Holloway case is extremely rare, but not completely impossible.

The partying that students participate in during this week can place them in dangerous situations as well. The combination of alcohol and strange surroundings mean women need to be especially careful of the threat of sexual assault; but dangerous and deadly situations are not only happening to women or those who drink a large amount of alcohol.

More than 100,000 high school and college-aged Americans travel to Mexican resort areas during spring break each year.

This year, the U.S. State Department and universities around the country, including University of Rhode Island, Penn State, Notre Dame and the University of Colorado, are warning college students headed for Mexico for spring break partying of a surge in drug-related murder and mayhem in the country.

Although most travelers never encounter danger, each year, several people die and hundreds are arrested, and U.S. citizenship in no way exempts one from full prosecution under the Mexican criminal justice system.

Rather than drinking away the week, consider going on a service trip that would leave behind lasting effects. Cabrini alone sponsors two different trips and even offers courses that take European trips during this week, to explore of the course first-hand. This year’s college-sponsored break trips are to Appalachia, New York City and Paris.

Your week off does not need to be in vain, but could be spent doing something for someone else in need. Although spring break on a beach sounds nice, you must weigh it against making a lasting difference in the world, not to mention the potential dangers to yourself.

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Mallory Terrence

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