Temple Student Government canceled its first Alternative Spring Break on Monday after only four students and two student leaders signed up to participate.
Students would have stayed at the Church of the Advocate on Diamond Street near 18th and participated in service projects, like cleaning up blocks and working at the Advocate Cafe, which serves free meals Monday through Friday from 12 to 2 p.m.
TSG’s Deputy Local and Community Affairs Director Faithe Beadle said she wanted to have at least eight participants for the program to run, in the hopes it would foster better group discussions.
“We wanted to have a fruitful program, and with the amount of participants, it wouldn’t be,” Beadle said. “We
decided it would be better to cancel it than have the participants not get anything from it.”
Church of the Advocate’s Rev. Renee McKenzie hopes she can institute the program in the future.
“I still think it’s a great idea,” McKenzie said. “I think that there’s a time and a way to do it, and we started this process a little too late to make it happen.”
According to TSG’s platform, the Alternative Spring Break program aimed to “promote experiential learning to combat stigma in regards to North Philadelphia” and “encourage civic engagement between students and the North Philadelphia community.”
“We wanted to implement something similar that focuses right here where our home is, rather than spring break options that are already available, like traveling to Jamaica or Texas,” Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes said. “We wanted to explore how we can be civically engaged in our own community.”
Student Activities offers several service-immersion programs, one of which is during Spring Break. Students who participate in these week-long programs can choose a domestic or international location in either El Paso, Texas; Rosebud Lakota Reservation, South Dakota; Mobile, Alabama or Guatemala.
“We know there are certain pressure points in the relationship, and so our goal [was] just to bring people to conversation,” McKenzie added. “We want to see each other as people, and respond to each other as people who are living and working in the same space.”
TSG wrote in a statement that it will plan a day of service later in the semester in lieu of the Alternative Spring Break.
“Sometimes there’s a change of plans, and that’s the way it is,” McKenzie said.
The plan for Alternative Spring Break came out of a class project Mann-Barnes worked on last academic year in his Urban Affairs class, Temple Students in the North Philly Community, taught by geography and urban studies instructor Charles Johnson. After he was elected student body president, Mann-Barnes worked to bring the plan to fruition.
“TSG wants to bridge the gap between students and the long-term neighbors in this community, as well as introduce them to the various initiatives and programs already in place,” Mann-Barnes said.