Although budgets for alternative spring break trips for community service have been cut, several student groups were able to obtain funding for travel over the upcoming two-week vacation. This year there will be a trip to Ghana for students to volunteer in a literacy program, a Williams Christian Fellowship (WCF) trip to Chicago to work in the inner city, a trip for students to work in schools on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico and a trip led by Jewish Chaplain Robert Scherr to work with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans. A total of approximately 50 students received funding for alternative spring break options.
The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and the Chaplain’s Office distributed the majority of funds for alternative spring break trips from a pool of $9000 gathered from their own budgets as well as from the Gaudino Fund, the Dean’s Office, the President’s Office and the Office of Campus Life. Student activities tax money also contributed to the fund. In addition, Lehman Council provided a total of $4000 to help fund three trips. Lehman has historically included its funding in the pool distributed by the CCE and the Chaplain’s Office, but did not this year due to difficulties in coordination.
The $13,000 total for alternative spring break trips distributed by the alternative spring break fund and Lehman marks a $2000 decline from last year’s $15,000. However, requests for subsidies nearly doubled this year, with the total jumping from $27,575 to $50,996. Although cuts directly affected their budgets, the CCE and Chaplain’s Office still had success in granting subsidies. “We were able to offer some assistance to every service related trip,” said Gary Caster, Catholic chaplain and acting College chaplain. “While there are no set criteria for apportioning the funds available for subsidy requests, each proposal is considered according to a range of significant factors, the most essential factor being the interaction between students and the communities they will be serving,” Caster added.
Nevertheless, financial constraints did impact this year’s alternative spring break trips. “In previous years, there used to be more alternative spring break trips, and each trip would be able to bring along more students,” said William Lee ’11, chair of Lehman Council. “Usually, active members of the student organizations that sponsor each trip receive priority for spots to participate on the trips, and then trip leaders hold open application processes to fill remaining spots. Because of the smaller trip sizes this year, there were no extra spots and none of the trips could advertise to the general campus.”
According to Lee, Lehman’s portion of this year’s fund was not affected by the budget cuts. “Annually, Lehman Council only contributes a small portion of the funding necessary to make these trips happen,” Lee said. “Luckily, College Council helped to defend our budget and we were allocated the same amount this year as in previous years to contribute to the trips.”
Lehman contributed $1000 to the trip to New Mexico, $1000 to the trip to Ghana and $2000 to the trip to Chicago.
Additionally, College Council (CC) provided every trip that petitioned with about $100 per student for domestic trips and $200 per student for international travel. “Our budget wasn’t affected significantly because the money CC gets is not affected by budget cuts,” said Rachel Hudson ’10, former CC treasurer.
In addition to funding the Navajo outreach trip, the trip to Ghana and the WCF trip, CC also helped fund trips for the Ephlats and the Springstreeters.