Barr Talk: ‘Alternative’ Spring Break can be productive and rewarding


The tradition of spring break goes as far back as the invention of beer pong, perhaps even further.

Who can forget the indelible memory of disorderly conduct for fun? Or the incredible revelry of gin in the sun? But the sobriety of Ann Arbor can prove a safe harbor.

Certainly, the wondrous and plunderous tradition of spring break has not been eliminated, but there are those college students whose empty pocketbooks have taken away the right to their annual rite.

Too broke to break.

Even some nondelinquent matriculants — those students who don’t feel the need to lose their minds or their sobriety on a warm march in March — skipped the pilgrimage this year.

“No car, no job, no suntan” has been heard on more than one campus. When the evil tentacles of student poverty slam the brakes on the break, it is a clear signal that this Spring Break ain’t happening.

But all is not lost for those spring stay-at-homers. Punch in “alternative spring breaks” in your handy-dandy search engine, and there are some worthy options. There’s even a commonly used acronym: ASB. Volunteering for the United Way is one way to tweak the week; working for the Student Conservation Association (ASB for the SCA) is another.

But it takes quite a selfless spring-breaker to take this route. Dental-floss bikinis, washboard abs and beer-bash blowouts may not be as benevolent, but in the minds of spring-breakers they are much more prevalent.

Even some collegians who have jobs couldn’t afford to take a week off to participate in the spring-break quake. They were forced to forego hullabaloo and a sun-darkened hue.

Students traditionally are short on cash, but some have found a way to afford the get-away. Others sought a little help from mom and dad, but this year many students are looking over their shoulders at an economic boulder.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been eligible for spring break, and forgive me if my sympathy sounds insincere.

But errands and studies can replace coolers and beer.


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