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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Students gear up for spring break charity work

    For most college students, spring break provides the perfect opportunity to travel to exotic locales with lenient drinking laws for a week-long party far from parental supervision.

    But some UA students travel in the name of philanthropy rather than debauchery as part of the Alternative Breaks program.

    The UA chapter, which was started in 1994, is part of a national program that encourages students to spend their breaks from school helping with a variety of causes that range from AIDS awareness to environmental conservation.

    “”It’s a pretty inexpensive opportunity to meet people while doing service work,”” said Nichole Sanderson, an anthropology junior who is helping lead one of the four trips scheduled for this semester’s spring break.

    Sanderson and the other 11 students in her group will be traveling throughout Northern Mexico and Baja, including stops in Ensenada, Magdalena and Mexicali, while working with a Mexican governmental nonprofit organization called Alternative Learning and Mentoring in the Arts and Sustainability (ALMAS).

    “”We’ll be doing a lot of community development work, like fixing buildings and landscaping,”” Sanderson said. “”Our goal is to shape the land to provide more effective use of rainwater and more responsible use of all the resources in the desert.””

    Other trips slated for this spring include a trip to Catalina Island, Calif., to revegetate native plants and a trip to Los Angeles to work with AIDS charities.

    Sanderson said more trips had been planned for previous spring breaks, but budget cuts within the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, which had previously been affiliated with the club and helped absorb some of its costs, put more of the club’s focus on fundraising for last semester.

    “”A large portion of our funding has always come from trip fees,”” said Sarah Lawton, a biology senior and president of the club. “”(The budget cuts) have required us to do more cost benefit analysis, like how many people or vans we need.””

    The cuts have also raised the fees for this year’s spring break trips to $150 per student, compared to $120 from last year, Lawton said.

    “”The costs for the UA trips are still much lower than they are at other universities,”” Lawton said. She attended a conference of the national organization last semester and said fees for other schools were commonly $300 to $400 per student.

    Cathy Adams-Riester, assistant director of CSIL, said the decision to stop funding the club was a difficult one, but being unaffiliated with the CSIL does offer the club greater opportunities for fundraising.

    “”Affiliation with our office meant that in the past Alternative Breaks was not eligible to receive as much funding from (the Associated Students of the University of Arizona),”” Riester said.

    The club is hoping to lower the fees by applying for additional funds from the ASUA, said club treasurer and assistant director of functions Jason Moore.

    “”The ASUA money that we have requested is currently being processed, and we are confident that the monies asked for will be given to us,”” said Moore, a political science senior. He said that any additional ASUA funds will go towards the cost of procuring vans for the trips, but it was not yet known how much the funds would lower the trip fees.

    This year’s program is also scaling the number of trips to four, down from six in previous years, although Lawton said the decision to lower the number was based on internal issues and not on the budget cuts.

    “”We did have two others planned, but it was more of an organizational problem,”” Lawton said. “”If we don’t have full itineraries for a trip by the spring semester, we can’t go ahead with them.””

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