The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 9, 2014

Labor party: Alternative spring breaks have become annual MSU tradition again

Alternative spring breaks have become annual MSU tradition again

Minnesota State University students for years went on alternative spring break trips, spending their precious week off from classes doing good deeds and seeing a few sites while they were at it.

Once the student organization that coordinated the trips dissolved, alternative spring breaks eventually fell by the wayside. But in 2012, Student Activities resurrected the idea, and the spring break trips have become an annual tradition again.

This year, about 20 students will be headed to El Paso, Texas, to help renovate a house with Habitat for Humanity, said Steph Stassen, graduate advisor, RSO & Leadership.

“They want to spend their spring break in a different way,” Stassen said. “They just want to help out and do good for other people.”

In 2012, the first year Student Activities organized the trip, they also partnered with Habitat's Collegiate Challenge alternative spring break program. Eight students went to Denver to help build a house.

The students took two vans and hit the open road, driving the 15 hours to Colorado. Molly Wandersee was the organizer and one of the graduate students who went on the trip that year.

She said a big part of the idea of resurrecting the MSU alternative spring breaks was to make sure the students had a fun time and got to see cool things. While in Denver they went to a Nuggets basketball game, for example.

“We wanted to make it a vacation, too,” Wandersee said. “The idea behind an alternative spring break is to, yes, volunteer most of your time, but also to have some fun.”

The same is true for the El Paso trip, said Stassen who is coordinating the trip and going along. The students are caravanning the full 21 hours across the country. They will be working with Habitat's Collegiate Challenge program Monday through Saturday, joining more than 14,000 students from more than 700 schools nationwide who will be working at more than 200 sites. Collectively, the students have pledged more than $1 million for the affiliates they are working with.

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