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The Carletonian

CSA Plans Shakeup of Spring Break Trips

<t does poverty mean in the United States?

To answer this question, students traveled to Waterloo, Iowa and spent a week constructing a house with Habitat for Humanity and reflecting on the meaning of poverty.

The other two alternative spring break trips this year were working at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minnesota to create a sustainable year-round farming system for a northern climate and working at Our School at Blair Grocery in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Since the late 1980s, Carleton has run alternative spring break trips “to give students the opportunity to think deeply about one subject and to engage in a hands-on project in a context away from Northfield,” according to Kelly Scheuerman, Program Director for Civic Engagement Pathways.

The CSA provides funding for these trips on an annual basis. For the past few years, the CSA has reduced funding to the CCCE for alternative spring break trips, liming the number of trips and the number of students who can participate in these trips.  

“There are always more applicants than spots, so the CCCE could fill five trips if it had the money and the people to organize these trips,” said Scheuerman.
During the 2010-2011 school year, the CCCE received $14,630 from CSA, allowing it to run four trips for 89 students.

This year, during spring allocation, the CSA gave the CCCE $4,515. In the fall, the CSA realized that it had a surplus, so students on the CCCE went before the CSA, gaining another $2,318. This money, along with $750 granted in transportation costs, allowed the CCCE to run the New Orleans trip. In the end, 28 students participated in alternative spring break trips this year.

“It is not sustainable for the CCCE to have to scramble to put together trips because of last-minute allocations,” Scheuerman said. “We cannot put the time into thinking about and planning the trips in the way that we want.”

According to CSA Treasurer Matt Cotter, “I don’t really know what logic has been used to determine the amounts more than just a year ago, but last year the budget was extremely tight, and everything got cut.”

Currently, the CSA determines funding for spring break trips on a case-by-case basis, making it difficult to allocate funding. This year, the CSA funded the CANOE trip, the OILL trip, the Hot Nova trip, and the CCCE trips. Both OILL and Hot Nova had not requested spring break funding previously.

“If everyone on campus asked for funding for spring break trips, they wouldn’t be doable. Budget Committee is trying to find a way that we can best use the student bodies’ money for everyone,” he said. “We do want to still allow the positive impact that these trips leave both on the people who attend them and on the parties they serve during their trips, but we need to be more consistent and concrete about what we can fund and what we can’t.”

However, Cotter pointed out that a downside to having concrete criteria is that explicit guidelines might result in more groups applying for spring break funding. As a consequence, the CSA might allocate less money per group.

In the end, Cotter’s goal is “to find a way that clubs can still receive funding to do great and meaningful things and have this be affordable to the CSA.”

On the CCCE end, as a result of the decreased funding: “We have been forced to reflect internally to see if we want these trips and if we want them how we can ensure that they continue,” Scheureman said. She was careful to note that alternative spring break trips are in keeping with the CCCE mission, so it is unlikely that they would ever cease.

According to Milah Xiong ’14, CCCE Events Fellow, the decrease in funding for alternative spring break trips is unfortunate for Carleton because “students get a lot out of the trips that they bring back to campus. The trips influence what majors students choose, career choices, and future involvement in campus organizations and activities.”
Similarly, Cotter said: “I think these trips are a great chance for Carleton students to serve larger communities in need. I definitely back the idea of these trips.” 

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