Spring Break 2013: A week of moral decay for some and community service for others

One week a year in the middle of Syracuse’s never-ending snowy season I escape. I can wear my floral shorts, lie on the beach, and soak in much-needed vitamin D. Some call this week a hedonistic moral decay of never-ending partying, binge drinking and wet t-shirt contests. I call it spring break. Syracuse University is officially on spring break from March 10 to 17. University offices close, faculty can catch up on grading papers and students have time to recuperate after midterms. According to the National Association of College Stores, only 31 percent of students plan on going home to relax this spring break. Twenty-eight percent plan on working, five percent are going on volunteer trips and 36 percent said they were taking a trip to an exotic location.

This year more than 1.5 million American college students will visit exotic locations that range from Daytona Beach, Fla., to Cancun. During the second and third weeks of March an estimated 600,000 college students will visit Panama City, Fla., one of America’s premier spring break destinations. Seasonal businesses like beach bars and resorts will make 30 to 40 percent of their yearly profits during spring break season. It is estimated that students will spend over $1.2 billion during 2013’s spring break, an increase of $150 million from last year’s spring break season. I wanted to know if this trend holds true on the Syracuse University campus. Are more SU students planning to escape the snow and head to one of these tropical destinations, or are they staying home to relax?

“In the beginning of the semester I was set to go to Panama City, but I miss my parents. I am just going back to San Diego, Calif. Going to a place like Panama City is nice to get away, but its not relaxing.” Syracuse University junior advertising major Melanie Holohan said. The warm climate in San Diego does increase her desire to go home and Holohan admits she understands why people who live in cold places would be more likely to travel for spring break.

New Jersey resident and Syracuse University junior Chad Muratev headed for Boca Raton, Fla., to escape the cold. “I’m going down to my friend’s house. It’s nothing special. I just want to go to the beach and relax. I got a cheap flight and have a little extra money. So I said why not.” While Muratev may have been able to book a cheap flight, the average airline ticket to a spring break destination costs $242 this year, up 4.2 percent from 2012.

Like Muratev, Dan Blaushild, a junior illustration major, who is currently aboard in Florence was influenced to travel for spring break because of airline prices. “I am going to Amsterdam to meet up with friends. He said plane tickets are really cheap in Europe and the flight is less than two hours.” Blaushild always tries to do something on spring break because “it gives me something to look forward to and a chance to refresh after midterms.”

Vice President of Student Travel Services Jake Jacobsen agrees with Blaushild. Spring break is a time when college students unwind, he explained. Its one week where they don’t have to worry about school. "We try and cater to what college student’s want. We get DJs, plan parties and organize trips. We want to maximize student’s fun.” Jacobsen said STS’s business is booming: “Our phones ring off the hook constantly.” He attributes this year’s increase in business to the harsh winter and rebound of the economy.

For students who do not have the money to travel to an exotic location, there are other options. The SU Abroad Office offers four different short-term programs during spring break. The destinations range from England to Costa Rica. Terri Megalgeri from SU Abroad said, “A lot of students use these programs because their financial aid or scholarship covers most of the cost,” which makes them more affordable than conventional trips.

For SU students who are interested in giving back during their break, the Office of Residence Life has partnered with the Youth Service Opportunities Project to offer students the chance to volunteer in Washington D.C. and New York City. “This is the fifth year we have partnered with SU. The program is getting bigger every year,” said Sarah DeGrandpre, director of the YSOP. About 70 SU students have signed up to volunteer in DC. “It’s only $135 dollars and gives young people the chance to make a difference and become more socially involved.”

Spring break has become a part of the college experience. It’s a time where you can get away and forget about school. Some students choose to spend the week waist deep in an unsanitary pool while others work at homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Spring break has become a billion-dollar business and continues to grow every year. There is something for everyone to do. Personally, I will be heading to the Dominican Republic. I don’t know if I will be partaking in the hedonistic moral decay, but I’m sure I’ll spend most of the week on the beach.