Leadership Development and Civic Engagement

Alternative Break Programs
Alternative Break FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Prospective Participants

  1. What makes it so “alternative”?
  2. What is an Alternative Spring Break (ASB)?
  3. What is a Fall Alternative Break (FAB)?
  4. Who can apply?
  5. How do I apply?
  6. How do you select who goes on the trip?
  7. What social issues are focused on for ASB 2017?
  8. Where will I go?
  9. How much does the trip cost and what does it include?
  10. When do I pay the program fee and is it refundable?
  11. What if I cannot afford the $100 fee?
  12. What is the time commitment?
  13. What type of service will I do?
  14. Where will we stay?
  15. What types of meals are provided?
  16. Do we get to explore the city/location where we are staying?
  17. How safe are Alternative Breaks?
  18. Is there a drug and alcohol policy?
  19. What are Pre-Trip Education meetings?
  20. What is Reorientation?
  21. Who leads the Alternative Break trips?
  22. How can I apply to be an AB Leader?              
  23. Who do I contact for more information?

What makes it so “alternative”?

These Alternative Break (AB) trips are an “alternative” to the common idea of a spring break – instead of sweating on beaches and sleeping in hotels, students sweat while doing service and bring sleeping bags! When the concept of an “alternative break” was formed over 20 years ago, it was common for college students to spend their breaks on beaches and engaging in risky behavior. These experiences are an alternative option that is drug- and alcohol-free. Overall, these trips are alternative college experiences because they get you off campus where you learn new things and meet new people.

What is an Alternative Spring Break (ASB)?

Alternative Spring Breaks, also called by its acronym ASB, are service-learning experiences that take students outside of Indiana to work with community organizations. Each trip focuses on 1-2 social issues and serves with a community organization that also works on those social issues. Students are grouped in teams of 10-12 to serve 6-8 hours a day together and then discuss their experiences in “reflection” sessions. On the “Exploration Day” students will visit different local sites as a group during their day off from service. Trips are planned by Alternative Break Scholars and supervised by a staff or faculty advisor. The $100 fee includes transportation, housing, and most meals.

What is a Fall Alternative Break (FAB)?

Fall Alternative Breaks, also called by its acronym FAB, are very similar to ASB trips except they take place for 4 days over IUPUI’s fall break. This is a larger group experience; in 2016 we accepted 36 students and divided them into 4 small groups. The FAB serves multiple social issues and with multiple community partners. The $50 fee includes transportation, housing, and most meals.

Who can apply?

Alternative Break (AB) trips are open to undergraduate and graduate IUPUI students.

How do I apply?

Alternative Spring Break applications opened on November 1, 2016 and closed on November 14, 2016. Applications will be available online, so check our main page for the link. On the application, you will rank the trips in terms of preference based on the social issues. There are several open-ended questions where we ask about your interest in the alternative break program and the social issues you preferenced – make sure to answer these questions!

How do you select who goes on the trip?

In years past when IUPUI Alternative Breaks was a smaller program, we operated on a first-come, first-served basis. We have moved to a new method where we weigh different aspects of an application. These different factors include: sincerity in open-ended responses, availability of different trips, and the goal of building a team with participants from different backgrounds (including year at IUPUI, major, and more). We also give some preference for students who are 21 years of age, have a valid driver’s license, and are willing to drive a 7-person rental van. Each trip requires a minimum of 4 drivers.

Once all participants have been selected, all other participants will be placed on a wait list. For Alternative Spring Break trips, on average we usually pull around 10-15 participants from the wait list between the time of selection (late November) until the week of the trip (early March).

What social issues are focused on for ASB 2017?

  1. Animal Conservation
  2. Environment
  3. HIV/AIDS
  4. Indigenous Rights
  5. Interfaith
  6. Mental Illness
  7. Rural Poverty
  8. Systemic Racism – with a focus on food deserts and gentrification (20 participants)

Where will I go?

The location of each trip is a MYSTERY until the first pre-trip education meeting! IUPUI Alternative Breaks prefers to center each trip around a social issue rather than a location. Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips are within a 10- to 12-hour radius of Indianapolis. We have gone to places as close as Chicago and St. Louis and as far away as Atlanta and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

If you have concerns, please contact JagBreak@iupui.edu. We understand that sometimes for medical reasons (physical, cognitive, and emotional), long drives are not preferred; we will work with you to place you at a closer (but unspecified) trip location.

How much does the trip cost, and what does it include?

The $100 fee includes transportation, housing, and most meals. The meals that are not covered are on Travel Days (Sunday and Saturday) since we make stops on the road, and meals on the “Exploration Day,” which is one day dedicated to exploring the city or area that students are staying in. We always go to restaurants that offer meals under $10. Plan to budget appropriately for food on these days and any souvenirs that you may desire.

When do I pay the program fee and is it refundable?

Please note that this fee is not required until your application has been officially accepted; you may apply before paying the fee. Upon selection, you will be notified by email. Once you pay the fee, it is nonrefundable. This is to encourage students to fully commit to the program as there are dozens of students on the wait list and it is unfair to take a spot if you cannot commit to participating. Additionally, the trip fee goes toward paying trip expenses; sometimes we do not have enough time to fill the empty spot from the wait list and thus require all fee money to support the trip cost.

What if I cannot afford the $100 fee?

We have fee waiver options (including full and partial waivers) associated with our “Alternative Break Assistant (ABA)” program. This program requires a separate application and a willingness to serve six hours prior to the trip to support the experience; this usually includes researching social issues, finding places to visit for the “Exploration Day," and developing ice breakers/teambuilders for your trip. On the trip, you will also support the AB Trip Leader(s) by helping to facilitate reflection discussions.

What is the time commitment?

All participants are required to attend the entire alternative break trip, four Pre-Trip Education Meetings, and one Reorientation event. Almost all 2017 Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips depart on Sunday, March 12 and return Saturday, March 18.  Pre-Trip Education (PTE) meetings occur between mid-January to mid-March; AB Trip Leaders work to arrange these meetings to work with all participants’ schedules. Reorientation will take place on April 15, 2017 from 9:00am-3:00pm. The PTE meetings are mandatory and failure to attend them may result in removal from the trip with no refund.

What type of service will I do?

The type of service varies but often includes manual labor. Examples of past service activities: painting, gardening, stocking/moving items, cleaning, assembling packets and folders for distribution, serving in a food pantry, building, and more.

Where will we stay?

Alternative Breaks are simple lifestyle experiences that value practicality. We often stay in religious buildings, community centers, and campgrounds. Students should always bring a sleeping bag and pillow with them; typically, they will sleep on the floor. We have free or very low-cost accommodations so we can maintain our program’s status as a low-cost experience for IUPUI students.

If students need to request accommodations, this should be directed to jagbreak@iupui.edu. For example, some students make religious and/or culturally-based requests such as to not sleep in the same space as students of the opposite sex.

Showers are sometimes located on site or at a nearby YMCA.

What types of meals are provided?

Meals are another aspect of our dedication to a simple lifestyle. Trip Leaders plan out each meal using a "simple living" budget. Each participant is allotted $6 per day ($1/breakfast, $2/lunch, $3/dinner) and this factors into grocery shopping. For example, a 12-person spring break trip will spend $12 to purchase breakfast per day, $24 for lunch, and $36 for dinner.

Breakfast usually includes toast, cereal, fruit, and oatmeal. Lunch will include a sandwich and additional items like granola bars, fruit, or chips. Dinners often include pasta, tacos, chili, and other low-cost options. All participants work together to cook each different meal, do set-up, and clean up. This is a family-style experience – nothing brings people together like food!

Dietary restrictions should be reported in your application and we will work together to make sure meals are safe and welcoming for all participants.

Do we get to explore the city/location where we are staying?

Yes! On the ASB “Exploration Day” the group will go together to visit local landmarks, restaurants, and more. This experience will vary according to location. Participants must provide for their own meals on this day. Sometimes the larger group will break up in groups of three to walk around the area. Participants are responsible for their sight-seeing costs, such as visiting a museum.

How safe are Alternative Breaks?

The personal safety of our students is our primary concern. Our AB Trip Leaders take great lengths to ensure the community and housing partners are in a safe and secure location. Transportation is safe and reliable as we rent vehicles through Indiana University’s partnership with Enterprise; vehicles are well-maintained and sometimes brand new. All drivers are 21 years old, have a valid license, and go through an approval process by Indiana University to ensure they are safe drivers.

If a participant is injured on the trip or becomes ill, Trip Leaders and the advisor will support the participant. First aid kits are required on the trip and, should it become necessary, the advisor will ensure the participant receives higher level of medical support such as a doctor or hospital.

AB Trip Leaders and advisors are trained to be responsible agents of the university. They uphold policies and procedures to ensure all participants engage safely within the trip. Additionally, the leaders and advisors have an emergency procedures handbook wherein they contact university administration if an emergency occurs. If a participant violates Alternative Break policies, the advisor has the authority to send the participant home at their own expense. Upon returning to IUPUI, the student will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. Ultimately we are committed to the safety of our participants.

Is there a drug and alcohol policy?

Yes. Alternative Breaks are drug- and alcohol-free experiences. Drugs are illegal and, even if 21 and older, alcohol is prohibited on the trip. Drinking alcohol impairs one’s ability to perform service and can damage group dynamics. All participants, AB Trip Leaders, and advisors are not allowed to consume, purchase, be under the influence of, or possess any alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs at any AB sanctioned events. Policy violations will result in removal from the trip at one’s own expense. The Office of Student Conduct will follow up with these policy violations.

What are Pre-Trip Education meetings?

Pre-Trip Education (PTE) meetings are educationally meaningful experiences focused on integrating your alternative break (AB) team, education on the social issue(s) of the trip, and learning about the trip destination. Each trip has 4 PTE meetings that are around 2 hours and are facilitated by the AB Trip Leaders. The PTE meetings are mandatory and failure to attend them may result in removal from the trip with no refund.

What is Reorientation?

Reorientation connects Alternative Break (AB) participants back to their social issue and Indianapolis after the trip. Participants will reunite with their AB team and do several hours of service at a community organization that is dedicated to the same, or similar, social issue that they focused on for the AB trip. After service, they will meet all other Alternative Spring Break groups to share their spring break experiences. All participants will engage in reflection activities and lunch will be provided. The day will cap off with inspiring students about how to continue serving in their communities.

Who leads the Alternative Break trips?

IUPUI Alternative Breaks is a program housed within Leadership Development and Civic Engagement in Campus Center and Student Experiences. The program is managed by the Coordinator for Civic Engagement and the Graduate Assistant for Civic Engagement.

A team of 12 scholars within the Alternative Break Scholarship program plans, implements, and leads the 9 alternative breaks annually. These scholars are supported by funds in the Sam H. Jones Community Service Scholarship program provided by the Center for Service and Learning and the Greening IUPUI Grant provided by the Office of Sustainability.

There are three levels of leadership positions within the IUPUI Alternative Breaks Program:

1. AB Co-Coordinator (AB CoCo)

2. AB Trip Leader (ABTL)

3. AB Assistant (ABA)

There are 4 AB Co-Coordinators (AB CoCo) who serve 10 hours weekly and earn a $4,000 scholarship. They are responsible for managing the AB program, co-planning the Fall Alternative Break (FAB), and leading their own Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip.

There are 8 AB Trip Leaders (ABTL) who serve 4 hours weekly and earn a $1,000 scholarship. They work in pairs to plan an ASB trip. All AB scholars gain training and knowledge in social issues, social justice, and event coordination through biweekly 2-hour meetings.

Most AB trips offer 1-2 Alternative Break Assistant (ABA) positions. This program requires a separate application from the trip application and a willingness to serve six hours prior to the trip to support the experience; this usually includes researching social issues, finding places to visit for the “Exploration Day," and developing ice breakers/teambuilders for your trip. On the trip, they will also support the AB Trip Leader(s) by helping to facilitate reflection discussions. Occasionally we have funding to provide a partial fee waiver or full fee waiver for the ABA.

How can I apply to be an AB Leader?

Once you have attended at least one alternative break, you may apply for the AB Scholarship positions. All applications open November 1. The AB Co-Coordinator scholarship closes April 3 and the AB Trip Leader applications close April 7. Applications are available on the Center for Service & Learning’s website: http://csl.iupui.edu/financial-support/scholarships/spring-break.shtml.

Applications will be reviewed and applicants may be asked to attend an individual interview or group interview. Selections will be made by mid-April and selected AB Scholars for 2017-2018 academic year will attend an Orientation on Friday, April 21 from 1:00pm-5:00pm.

Who do I contact for more information?

Requests for more information can be directed to: JagBreak@iupui.edu.

Visit us in Suite 370 of the Campus Center to see staff or the AB Scholar office in “The Cube” on the third floor of the Campus Center.

Find us on social media under the hashtag #JagBreak and these accounts:

Facebook: IUPUI Alternative Breaks - #JagBreak [link]

Twitter: @JagBreak [link]

Instagram: @JagBreak [link]