Back to New Orleans
Alternative Spring Break Participants Selected
By Bekah Oester
For the third year, selected Bowie State University students will give their spring break time to those less fortunate, visiting New Orleans to help with continued relief efforts as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
According to student and participant Jessica Cooper, Alternative Spring Break, as the initiative has become known, began informally in 2006 when BSU alumni Chauna Lawson went with some friends to New Orleans to help after the tragedy. The following year, Lawson sought support from BSU to make the trip school wide.
The trip maintains a popular option for students; however, some changes have been made to improve the experience each year. For instance, there is not enough room for all applicants to participate, so a selection process had to be put in place. While last year and this year's trips both required essays, many students overall felt that there was a bias towards students with Greek affiliations, spurring many complaints.
To avoid this from being a repeat issue, and to guarantee fairness, Cooper says that students were not able to put identifying information of any sort on their essays such as campus organizations they participate in, save for their student identification numbers, which would be used to contact selected students. Any essay in violation of this requirement was automatically disqualified.
In addition to the essay application, this year the committee held events prior to the trip including an awareness movie by Spike Lee entitled "When the Levees Broke." A trip to a detention facility was also planned, however was canceled due to an incident at the facility. Cooper says these were especially helpful in the selection process because "it showed the kind of commitment to service that we were looking for."
The final selection process involved the participants of pre-trip events being mixed with the highest rated essays, then being drawn at random, along with alternates. The selected students were posted on a facebook group and required to submit their trip cost. The complete list of selected participants who will be departing soon, can be seen on the group's facebook page, entitled "BSU Alternative Spring Break Movement." Students interested in future trips are also encouraged to join the group, because, as Cooper says, "the group's main focus is spring break now, but we would like this to be initiative for all year round."