Last-minute applications are being accepted today for the Alternative Spring Break trip from March 13 to March 19, which will focus on community service.
Ole Miss students will fly out west to the Grand Canyon in Arizona and Las Vegas. If chosen, students will pay $150 to also work on community service projects in the area. Applications are due at 5 p.m. today.
The alternative break only recently started with a collaboration of the Department of Student Housing and the Dean of Students.
The upcoming trip for March 2017 will be the organization’s third trip. In 2013, former university staff started the break program when they took students to to help with storm cleanup, the food pantry and family assistance.
In 2016, students went to Yosemite National Park in California where they conducted a nature trail cleanup, helped build bear boxes and painted bulletin boards. Students also visited San Francisco and volunteered with Project Open Hand and Family House.
“I thought it was a lot of fun,” said Michael Mossing, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, who went in 2016.
“The students all enjoyed themselves. It’s a great experience as long as you aren’t afraid to roll up your sleeves and work a little bit in the volunteer projects,” Mossing said.
Jennifer Stollman of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation will accompany students in March 2017.
The current committee for Rebels Roll West is composed of one full-time staff member, one faculty member, three graduate assistants and six undergraduate students.
Committee member Ashley Kerbel is the graduate community director.
According to Kerbel, more than 200 students applied last year; however, only 12 were chosen. For this trip, the committee leaders will use blind applications, scoring them based solely on question responses.
“We’re going to be making sure we have a very diverse group,” Kerbel said. “We may have students who are very involved on campus, but maybe this is their first involvement. We want to make sure we have a lot of blend and balance of students who are going.”
Department of Student Housing Assistant Director for Marketing Jennifer McClure said, “We want students who are committed to not only the fun part, but more importantly the service component of it, too. We want them to have this as a networking and friendship-building opportunity as well. Maybe to connect with students they didn’t already know who are on campus.”
According to McClure, student housing has a student development fund to offer students educational and service opportunities. Rebels Roll West qualifies as one of those. Last year, the department used $17,500 for the trip.
“I just hope that alternative break becomes a really large organization at Ole Miss within times,” Kerbel said. “We have so much to offer. You know, leave Oxford and give up a break to do something great for the community and have fun with it.”