Spring break offers sun, sand, scams

By Brittany Abeijon

Humid temperatures, sandy beaches, good company and endless amounts of alcohol describe how some students at the University spend their spring break vacation.

Many students travel to popular tourist destinations such as Cancun, South Padre Island, Panama City and Las Vegas, but are often blinded by the exotic aspects of these foreign places and forget the actual dangers they present.

Thomas E. Betz, an attorney for University student legal services names the essentials of spring break, the five S’s: sand, sun, sex, suds and smokes.

Betz said the most dangerous place to travel for spring break is Las Vegas. The city is where many students, even under the age of 21, go to drink and gamble. He stressed that most students are unaware that casino security and police enforcement are massively increased during spring break, and some of the toughest drug laws are enforced in Nevada.

Outside of the U.S., many younger students travel to Mexico to legally drink at the age of 18. This often causes students who do not normally drink to consume abnormal amounts of alcohol.

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“They drink to the point of insanity and stupidity, often leading to physical violence and other dangerous activities,” Betz said.

Betz stressed that students should remember that they are in a foreign country. Students often forget that when traveling to a major tourist area, like Cancun, where a vast majority of people are English-speaking.

The most important difference to remember concerns the legal systems.

“All they want is your money,” Betz said. “If you’re in jail in Mexico, they could post a bond of $5,000 to $6,000 that either your friends or your parents will have to pay to get you out.”

Betz said students need to be aware of their surroundings, and to take their common sense with them.

“If you look like you can be taken advantage of, then you will be,” Betz said. “Try not to look like an easy target.”

Drinking and debauchery often lead to arrests, but can also lead to date rape, sexually transmitted diseases and even pregnancy.

“Consensual sex and one-night stands are all over the place, but date rape is also rampant on spring break,” Betz said. “Alcohol has that effect.”

In the International Journal of STD and AIDS, it was reported that 75 percent of all students never or rarely use a condom on spring break.

In another survey from the International Journal of STD and AIDS, when asked about their alcohol use in connection with their sexual activities, 49 percent of men and 38 percent of women reported having sex as a direct result of drinking.

Kim Rice, McKinley Health Center sexual health educator, said it is difficult to make a direct connection between spring break and sexually transmitted infections (STI) among students.

“Students often underestimate the possibility of contracting an STI, and how effective condoms are to reduce their risk in contracting an STI,” Rice said.

Lee Jenne, senior in Aviation, said the dangers of spring break are realities for University students.

He traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for spring break last year and was riding in a cab when he was accidentally mixed up in a high-speed pursuit.

“The cab driver told me that most people don’t stop for police because they want money and it is common knowledge that you can easily bribe a police officer,” Jenne said.

He also advised not walking alone, especially on dark beaches.

Spring breakers must beware of money situations that involve scams and theft, which are tricky to avoid when traveling to unfamiliar places. Scammers take advantage of students especially when under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.

There are different dangers present at all spring break destinations, yet many students are very ignorant of them.

Jenne expressed his anticipation for his spring break trip to Acapulco this year.

“It will be like six Unofficials in a row,” Jenne said. “But on the beach and without the politics.”