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Chronicle exclusive: Spring break sparks worry
Mid-March through early April is usually the time when many high school and college-aged students across the United States are getting ready to pack up their bikinis and board shorts and head for warmer weather. However, for some, this year might be a little bit different.
18-year-old Alabama high school student Natalee Holloway disappeared during a school trip on the island of Aruba in May 2005. Her body has yet to be found.
“I have never really been a big advocate of the spring break idea. Even before Natalee Holloway’s disappearance, I’ve always been worried that something bad might happen, and there would be nothing I could do to help my child, especially if they were out of the States,” said Patricia Greene, mother of a Quinnipiac University junior. “Luckily, my daughter only has one more year in college, so hopefully we’ll be able to bypass the spring break idea again next year, and it won’t have to be an issue.”
When asked about changes in prices of spring break trips or a potential decrease of participation this year, Kristen Brenna, a representative from Studentcity.com, said that little has changed.
“I would say that there’s been no change in the prices of spring break packages and no changes in any aspect with how we run our program,” Brenna said. “Our numbers haven’t gone down at all this year, so that leads me to believe that the Natalee Holloway incident really hasn’t played a big factor in spring break plans for this year.”
Many students on this campus are not letting their parents’ concerns keep them from hitting the beach.
“I’m going away to Acapulco with a few of my friends and all my parents said was to be careful of my surroundings, and since the drinking age in Mexico is eighteen, not to get to the point where I’m ‘legless,'” said Daniel Quinn, junior accounting major.
Quinn’s roommate, junior public relations major Christopher Kleine, received similar advice from his parents.
My mom said the only thing she was really concerned about was me drinking too much and ending up in a Mexican hospital, because apparently hospitals down there aren’t the best,” Kleine said. “Other than that, I don’t think they are too concerned with any of us disappearing.”
Still, some parents are worried.
“I have a daughter and two sons,” said Rosanne Russolello, mother of a Quinnipiac University sophomore. “And I feel like for my sons it might be different than my daughter. Girls are usually so much more trusting of people and may not realize that they are walking into a trap. I hate to sound like this is about a difference of the sexes, but boys aren’t the ones that are typically preyed on in situations like Natalee Holloway’s.”
In addition to concerned parents, there are concerned faculty members at Quinnipiac University who have children asking to go on spring break vacations.
“I don’t think letting my child go on spring break would be a responsible idea. Even before all of the Natalee Holloway news, my daughter wanted to go to Mexico in college and I said absolutely not. This summer, my 18-year-old son wants to go to Block Island, and I don’t even think that’s a good idea. Anything can happen anywhere,” said Kim Healy, a professor of Sociology.
Student-aimed travel agencies are saying that they haven’t had a decline in business, and some are even saying that this year has offered a boost in their sales. And it seems that many parents, especially ones with daughters, are hesitant to let their children go away in light of the recent disappearance of Natalee Holloway.
However, if the travel agencies are having an increase in business from teenagers, it is clear that there isn’t an adequate amount of parents concerned enough to prevent their children from going on a spring break vacation this year.