Student organizations plan trips for inaugural fall break

Media Credit: Kiana Robertson | Senior Staff Photographer

Freshmen Galen McDonald and Lane Fisher helped members of the LGBT community register to vote on a GW Democrats trip to North Carolina last month. The CDs and other student organizations are taking advantage of fall break to take similar trips outside of D.C.

Not all students are heading home for GW’s first fall break: Some are taking advantage of student organizations’ trips and activities planned for the break.

GW’s first-ever fall break will take place Oct. 24 and 25, and student groups are using the time off from classes to go on political and adventure trips. Student leaders said the time off gave their groups a chance to do more activities than they did under the older academic schedule.

Tim Miller, associate dean of students, said he hopes students will use the time to their advantage by catching up on school work, exploring new parts of D.C. or traveling outside of the area.

“We are proud of the student advocacy for adding a fall break, and we support the University’s decision to add this to the academic calendar,” Miller said.

This inaugural fall break comes after nearly a year committee talks among faculty, the Office of the Registrar, the Center for Student Engagement and the Student Association. Students advocated for the break after researching peer institutions’ academic calendars and noting a break’s mental health benefits for students.

Miller added administrators are excited to see that students have shown interest in participating in trips over break, like the excursions GW TRAiLS leaders planned.

Lin Philpott, program coordinator for outdoor leadership at GW TRAiLS, said guides planned three trips during the break that include two overnight backpacking excursions in Utah’s Zion National Park and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, and a three-day star gazing and day-hiking trip in Pennsylvania’s Cherry Springs State Park.

“TRAiLS is happy to provide students with an opportunity to be active in the outdoors and engage in health and wellness activities during fall break,” Philpott said.

And with the U.S. presidential election right around the corner, multiple political student groups are arranging campaign trips.

Lande Watson, president of the GW College Democrats, said the group is taking a four-day campaigning trip to Philadelphia and the surrounding area starting the weekend before the break and through the two days of the break itself.

“We think the fall break is a great opportunity for students to relax or choose to engage with an issue or opportunity that excites them,” Watson said. “For us, fall break provides a rare opportunity for students to spend four full days speaking to voters about issues that Democrats care about.”

Watson added that the students are not only campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton but also for Democratic candidates at the state and local levels.

College Democrats partnered with the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws Pro-Choice America to help fund housing, transportation and food during the trip. NARAL is an organization dedicated to protecting reproductive freedoms and access to abortions, Watson said.

Allison Coukos, director of public relations for the GW College Republicans, said the group will also travel to New Hampshire and campaign on behalf of Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.

The College Republicans National Committee will assist in funding the trip, Coukos said.

Elizabeth Konneker contributed to reporting.

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