We can#039;t forsake alternative break

The Alternative Spring Break program, and its fundraising challenges

Our View:

The school should do more to support the charitable initiative,Almost two and a half years after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast, the government continues to drag its feet in the effort to relieve affected areas. Houses still need to be rebuilt, schools remain understaffed and many residents have not been able to return. Policymakers aren’t the only ones who have forgotten the struggling Gulf Coast: media coverage is now practically nonexistent, especially with 2008 campaign stories obscuring everything else.

A number of selfless Emerson students, however, have decided not to play into the silent treatment. Instead, they are joining other college-aged kids in a charitable project called Alternative Spring Break.

This year has seen more volunteers than last flocking to Emerson’s ASB program. Next week, many of these participants will travel to Waveland, Miss. and help repair homes destroyed during Katrina. Other humanitarian-minded Lions will follow ASB to Washington D.C. or stay in Boston, where they will work with the homeless.

These goodhearted ventures stand in sharp contrast with the MTV-style revelry typically associated with the spring holiday. Given that breaks are usually times to forget-forget teachers, forget classes, forget what you did the night before-it’s all the more impressive that these students are choosing instead to remember.

They are remembering the unfortunate among us, and that college is not just a time to party and study, but to discover the world and give back to it. Unlike the hordes of young “activists” who regularly invade the Common to protest the cause du jour, these students are not content with superficial posturing. They are taking action.

Of course, being proactive doesn’t come easily. We can’t expect everyone to forsake fun plans with friends and family or sacrifice a week of RR. But to help this commendable effort, Emersonians don’t even have to commit their whole spring break. When it comes to much needed fund raising, every Lion can lend a hand.

This year’s band of alternative breakers-which numbers around 30-has succeeded, without external help, to gather enough money so that no attendee will have to pay for transportation or lodging costs. This is a luxury that ASB programs at some other campuses simply cannot afford.

Still, next year already looms large. Fundraising is the biggest challenge facing the blossoming group, which has received a flood of interest as of late, as covered by The Beacon in its Feb. 21 issue.

We urge Emerson’s administration to aid the funding of this admirable and selfless initiative. After all, if the college can spend up to $25,000 on brand-new flat screen TVs, $400 per person seems a small price to pay in order to facilitate genuine humanitarian work.