Alternative spring break trip to Michigan canceled

By Matt Grahn

 

An alternative spring break trip for Quinnipiac students to Battle Creek, Michigan has been canceled due to low participation. Vincent Contrucci, the director of the ffice of community service, said that this is the first time he has had to cancel a trip in his 11 years of working at Quinnipiac.

Contrucci said that he has been able to send groups of Quinnipiac students to the Habitat for Humanity branch in Battle Creek for the past eight years, but this year “it just didn’t work out.”

“Even though I had 20 students apply, it didn’t mean that all students accepted invitations to participate on the trip. I had people that dropped out, so ultimately I had to cancel one of the trips,” said Contrucci.

Contrucci said there has been a decline in students interested in the trips in recent years, though he doesn’t know why.

In its most recent data, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said that only 18.4 percent of individuals aged 20 to 24 volunteered in 2015, while individuals aged 35 to 44 volunteered the most with 28.9 percent.

The reason why the school decided not to send just a small group was due to a matter of resources. Matt Kurz, assistant dean of student affairs for campus life, said that the cost of each trip is determined by how many students are going.

That trip budget would be used to pay for food and lodging, and the trip is more cost-efficient if more students go. He added that only sending along a few people wouldn’t have enough of an impact on the construction work for the trip.

Kurz said that this is an unusual situation.

“At previous institutions that I’ve worked at, going on an alternative spring break trip is very highly valued. Students are excited, (they) want to go and want to participate,” said Kurz.

Some Quinnipiac students, such as junior Charissa-Joy Okang, did not notice the trip’s promotional emails or posters.

“I don’t look at the posters anyway,” Okang said. “Email (depends on) who it’s coming from. I wouldn’t remember getting an email.”

Kurz agreed, illustrating his perspective on selling the idea of the trip to students.

“If I’m going to buy a car,” said Kurz, “the car salesman is going to say ‘Hey! This car is great and here are all the reasons you should buy it.’ But I know I’m working with a car salesman that has an interest in me buying that car.”

“If a friend of mine says ‘Hey! I own a Subaru, and Subarus are great for these reasons’ I’m more likely to listen to that friend.”

Okang agreed with Kurz’s logic.

“I think If you had actual students... talking about their actual experiences, (it would) be more like ‘I wanna do that too’ rather than coming from an email,” she said.

Okang, a biology major, will travel to the Dominican Republic as part of her Global Public Health minor. She looked forward to being able to help people while experiencing a Spanish-speaking country. When she learned about the minor, she attended a presentation with a friend.

“We met some of the people who went on the trips… they made it very exciting to join them,” Okang said.

Sophomore Nadia Filipic said that, as a sister of Kappa Delta, she regularly does community service with the Children’s Center of Hamden and the Girl Scouts. She added that serving others is important.

“I think we all have to try and help people out and make the world a better place. Whatever you can do to help... it’s a good thing,” said Filipic.

With the cancellation, Contrucci was concerned about students not wanting to get out of their comfort zone.

“Part of the reason to go to college is to experience new things, and if you’re only sticking with the familiar, you’re not growing,” said Contrucci.

Contrucci said that the students who participated in previous trips have come back to Quinnipiac “enthusiastic” about the experience, especially since they get to learn something in a new way. He added that going on a service trip when he was in college was memorable.

“It’s one of the things that really sticks out that I recall and remember. It influenced my perceptions about the homeless population in the United States,” said Contrucci.

As for the future of the alternative spring break trip at Quinnipiac, Contrucci isn’t sure what will happen. In the meantime, the other trip to assist Habitat for Humanity in Cornelius, North Carolina will commence.

“I hope that it's successful as (it has) been in the past, that the students have a positive experience and the affiliate has a positive experience with the team that they receive,” said Contrucci.

Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Deutschland