Editorial: Relax responsibly this spring break


Spring break: an annual academic recess during which millions of America’s brightest descend upon vacation hotspots far and wide to engage in a week of copious substance-abuse, littering, unsafe sex and antagonizing locals.

According to Absolute Waste Services, spring breakers left 30 tons of trash on the beaches of Port Aransas, Texas, last year. Panama City Beach Police Department’s governing council in Florida authorized an additional $200,000 in 2015 for the express purpose of taming spring break crime, and several other departments in the state spent similar sums. Furthermore, the hallmark intoxicated chaos of spring break parties leaves many vacationers vulnerable to all manners of abuse, even in public.

Perhaps this proposal is madness, but what if America’s college students didn’t overrun the beaches of this continent with barbaric anarchy this year? Could we manage that?

The North American spring break tradition, and similar mass youth tourism events, represent a troubling sociological cocktail. A study of England’s rowdy student travelers from Greek researcher Konstantinos Andriotis, reveals that the combination of far travel, substance abuse and mass peer influence fosters destructive antisocial behavior. In the case of North America, when these mass vacations turn entire cities into parties, students cast off the social expectations of home in favor of embracing the enveloping rager. For those who live normal lives in these cities all year round, spring breakers are a scourge of intoxicated young people who have checked their decency at the door.

For law enforcement in popular spring break destinations, the student vacationers bring a crimewave. A University of Miami (Florida) study of 14 popular spring break counties across seven states showed an increase in traffic accidents involving out-of-state drivers, while crash rates in these states’ less popular counties remained static. The study estimates that spring break results in an additional 16 traffic deaths in each county per year. Worse yet, not all of these crimes are alcohol-related tragedies either.

Merely five years ago, Panama Beach City, Florida, gained a dark reputation following the release of a cell phone video recording what appeared to be a multi-assailant sexual assault in broad daylight with uncounted hundreds of bystanders. According to the county’s sheriff at the time, Frank McKeithen, the incident was one of an uncounted number of similar brutalities caught on video. An unprovoked gunman wounded seven people at a house party weeks prior to the surfacing of the sexual assault footage. The Bay County Police Department, which encompasses Panama Beach City, reported a near tripling of spring break arrests. This record-breaking violent crime spree pushed the Bay County Commission to prohibit alcohol consumption on the county’s beaches for the entirety of March in hopes of curbing spring break violence and abuse.

As spring break dawns for South Dakota State University, ask yourself if you truly want to be a part of the chaos, disrespect and violence. We at The Collegian politely request that the student body enjoy their spring break with responsibility and dignity. Watch out for your friends, respect those around you and stay out of trouble. We promise that embarking on a belligerent crusade against the people of Cancun takes more money and effort than a relaxing kickback with a few of your favorite people.

The Collegian Editorial Board meets weekly and agrees on the issue of the editorial. The editorial represents the opinion of The Collegian.