The Truth Behind Spring Break

Isabella Snyder

As a high-schooler you imagine what your dream spring break would be like, for some it’s nothing special, but for some it’s their time to shine. Fall and Winter break are about family and catching up on sleep. Spring Break can be about whatever you want it to be. That’s where the danger begins, in our imagination. 

From the beginning of March to the end of April, college students are released for one week of hectic fun. Not every school gets out at the same time but with an expected enrollment of 20 million in the year 2020, there is still a huge number of “Spring Breakers” per week. Some of the most popular spring break destinations include; Miami Beach, Florida, South Padre Island, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

 Let’s take a closer look at South Padre Island. At first glance it looks like a small island town with a population of 2,900 and for a large portion of the year that is all it is. But for the month of March, city officials say 250,000 “Spring Breakers” will descend on the island. 

Spring Break is known for regrettable tattoos, embarrassing affairs, frolicking on the beach, and plenty of alcoholic beverages. South Padre Island had all of that in 2015, but what it also had was four deaths. National headlines at the time did little to expose the truth or to deter students from this preferred destination. A headless body was found floating in the Laguna Madre, a 21-year-old Spring Breaker fell to her death from a hotel balcony, a homeless man was found dead among the dunes and 20-year-old Jordan Britten died from immersion hypothermia and drowning because of acute drug intoxication. Since these events the city tripled the size of its police force while also hiring additional lifeguards, firefighters and jail staff. But is that enough to make it safe in your mind?

One student, Emily Brownell, 22, from Ball State University is quoted saying, “I’d probably have come back regardless, This is the Spring Break experience.”

Spring Break has this reputation that goes along with it, like Brownell says. So, how did it get this reputation? Where did it all begin? The origins of spring break can be traced back to Greek and Roman celebrations of spring. These ancient festivities revolved around honoring Dionysus and Bacchus, the gods of wine. That honoring of alcohol has not changed in all these years. In the 1930s, a shift from spring break being a time to relax with family began when The Colgate College spring swim team started traveling to Fort Lauderdale for training. By the 1950s, College students everywhere were heading south to spend their breaks on the beach. TIME published its first spring break story, “Beer & the Beach,” in 1959. There is the infatuation with alcohol again. The popular T.V. channel MTV began hearing of these massive month-long parties. In 1986, MTV’s first spring break program premiered, further highlighting the association between spring break and excess partying. Only after this program aired was the first warning put out about the dangers of Spring Break. The American Medical Association issued warnings about drinking, drugs, and sexual activity, and a number of colleges and universities began providing students with “break bags,” filled with items like sunscreen and sexual assault pamphlets.

It is up to each “Spring Breaker” how they want to pass their time and there are many safe yet still tropical options. Just do your research and stay aware of your surroundings while on break!