By Sierra Dole
“When I think of spring break, I think of the beach, partying in mass groups and a lot of drinking,” said Penn State graduate Colleen Klinefelter.
According to Benjamin Hickerson, assistant professor of recreation, park and tourism management at Penn State, students who party often during the regular school year are likely to party during their spring break vacation as well.
“The more you are part of the party atmosphere in the university, the more likely you are to engage those behaviors during spring break,” Hickerson said. “You probably won’t completely deviate from your campus behaviors, and those behaviors are a very good predictor of how you’ll behave on spring break.”
However, even some students who regularly partake in the Penn State nightlife said that they have spent their spring breaks relaxing rather than partying.
“I always went down to Florida for spring break,” Klinefelter said. “But I always spent my time relaxing on the beach with my sister or at Disney. I went out enough with my friends during the school year, so I wanted to really focus on the real point of spring break: getting away and unwinding.”
So, why do so many people associate spring break with over-the-top stereotypes if the majority of students aren’t actually partaking in them?
“Probably because of television,” Chedid said. “People see what some do on spring break and want to top it or they just find it as a reason to go nuts while being away from their parents…and some stay away from it.”
Penn State student Hayley Amerman agreed that the media is the culprit behind spring break stereotypes.
“No one I know really goes on crazy spring break trips, but MTV and stuff like that make it seem like that’s what you’re supposed to do,” Amerman said.
Sure enough, television broadcasts during spring break contain outrageous party scenes hosted by MTV and Maxim. However, what most people don’t realize is that these TV programs are hosting the events. MTV chooses a vacation spot each year and provides food, alcohol and entertainment to throw a catered event with the aim to broadcast it as the unscripted lives of college students. In 2012, MTV hosted a spring break event in Las Vegas, booking popular music groups for the week.
This year, however, in addition to the usual spring break party events, MTV has partnered with the United Way and mtvU to host “Spring Fix,” an alternative spring break. MTV will send 50 college students to help rebuild areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.
“MTV does it to boost ratings for the network,” Klinefelter said. “They choose something that will be appealing for the college age segment to pull in an audience and just run with it until it’s exhausted. It’s all about…making money.”