By Marian Baker, Staff Writer
Spring break in college is a well-known trope: a time when students descend on the beaches of the Gulf Coast and indulge in all manners of stereotypical college debauchery, including excessive drinking, risky sexual behavior and occasionally crime. The popular conception of spring break was most memorably caricatured by the 2012 movie “Spring Breakers,” in which all of the above takes place.
But is this the reality? Is “partying on the beach” an accurate representation of what most students do for spring break? Certainly not all college students take tropical vacations for their spring break; many go home or even stay on campus.
Many students do take beach vacations. Last week, I only needed to take a cursory glance at my Facebook and Instagram feeds to confirm this. There were many photos posted with a similar composition: swimsuit-clad friends arm-in-arm on the beach, big smiles all around, with the occasional person “throwing what they know,” i.e. displaying the Greek hand symbol of his or her respective affiliation.
Spring breakers in Florida have already started making the news this year for their out-of-control behavior. In Volusia County, where Daytona Beach is located, law enforcement has called in reinforcements to deal with the huge crowds of students. Over the past two weeks, more than 100 arrests have been made on the beach, where alcohol is not permitted by law. Being only two weeks into the spring break season, officials expect it to get worse.
However, for many other students, myself included, spring break is not a week-long tropical vacation. It is certainly a time to relax and recharge, but not a party. For me, it can even be a time of boredom: part of my spring break was spent on a deserted campus, and part at home, while most of my old friends were still in school.
Indeed, for many students, spring break is a time to go home. It is a time to see family that you have not seen in a month or two, fit in your semi -annual dentist’s appointment, or lay on the couch for a few days. This second spring break option was also well-represented in my social media feeds. One individual, who shall go unnamed, even updated their Snapchat story from what was ostensibly a pediatric dentist office.
For still others, spring break is not a time of fun or even relaxation. Some students have to work during their school breaks. And like any other week of the year, life still happens around us on spring break. During my freshman year, my uncle passed away. This year, my family received news that my mother has colon cancer and will need major invasive surgery.
Spring break is not a monolith. Spring breaks can range from the greatest adventure of your life thus far all the way to the worst week of your life. We should do well to remember that the image of tanned students partying on the beach is a stereotype that obscures the range of experiences students have over their spring breaks.