Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spectator (our student newspaper) article

This article appeared in The Spectator on February 7th, 2008

Group will visit 19 historical landmarks
Students taking a trip south during spring break to civil rights locations
Rob Hanson
Students will visit the five states shown above that are rich in civil rights history during spring break.As UW-Eau Claire rapidly approaches spring break, many students are plotting their escape from winter, cold and learning.One group of students, however, is planning to enjoy their coveted week off with some fun in the sun that retains a bit of educational value.The "Civil Rights Pilgrimage" is set to kick off its bus tour of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas, including 19 pit stops at historical landmarks and civil rights enthusiast destinations, during the week of March 14 to 23.According to the trip itinerary, students will have a chance to take in the hometown of Martin Luther King Jr., the Rosa Parks Museum, the Arkansas state capital, the home of jazz and the Preservation Hall in New Orleans, La."It's really for all students," Associate Dean of Student Development Jodi Thesing-Ritter said. "We hope that it will be both fun and educational and also provide the immersion for students who might not have been able to experience something like this in Wisconsin."The goal is to challenge students to think critically about the civil rights issues that still exist in our country today," she said.The idea for the pilgrimage came from Putnam Hall Director January Boten, who heard of a similar trip from a grad-student at Marquette University. Upon hearing of Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich's "strategic plan" for diversity on campus, Boten thought the trip would be just the ticket in getting students involved.Boten assembled a team including sophomore Sarah Gonzalez, junior Tim Kenney and seniors Katie Lashua and Chris Lashua to engage in the planning of the trip.In addition to the crash course in civil rights history, students will also spend time in an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Thesing-Ritter said. This will not only give participants an opportunity to witness the clean up first hand, but also a chance to book some service learning hours, which are required for graduation, she added.Although it has been little more than rumor so far, organizers are also encouraging the university to grant students involved history credits. Another important element of the journey into history is its affordability. For $200, students get to catch a lift into the steamy south during winter with lodging and tour charges included. "I thought the price was going to be way more," Gonzalez said. "(The price) is really nice. "A lot of people are thinking spring break and are planning on going to see friends and family, but it's going to be a fun trip and I think it's going to stick with people for a long time," she said. Students will be spending a night or two on the bus because they will drive through the night to fight time constraints, Thesing-Ritter said, adding that they will stay at local universities that offer a bit of southern comfort and add to the social element of the voyage."It's really an event planned by students, for students," Thesing-Ritter said.

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