After UDaB’s cancellation, disappointed students look for online service opportunities
Associate News Editor
For students set to volunteer across the country, the cancellation of their service trips was heartbreaking. They respected the decision to cancel the trips, but they refused to cancel their dedication to service.
Now the students who planned to go on a University of Delaware Alternative Breaks (UDaB) trip, turn their focus to helping communities online.
Alex Guterbock, one of the site leader trainers, is looking for ways to keep UDaB running virtually despite the “current circumstances.”
Guterbock said that Student Diversity and Inclusion (SDI) told the team that “the university was canceling everything.” The team held an emergency meeting to inform the staff about the situation.
“It was disappointing, but I think it was the most responsible thing to do regarding the situation,” Guterbock, a senior international relations and public policy double major, said. “We actually probably saved a lot of communities from being infected.”
All the students that signed up will receive a full refund, and the team is trying to find ways to work virtually, Guterbock said.
Guterbock said she has a lot of ideas to help the team regroup and that social media is a viable option.
“[Social media] is an avenue for people to get engaged with social justice issues,” Guterbock said. “At least the students can still participate in something and we can still encourage the same values [of UDaB].”
UDaB is an on-campus organization under SDI whose main goals are dealing with “social justice issues and community development and service and applying the experience to local and daily life,” according to Guterbock.
On March 10, UDaB suspended all spring break trips scheduled for this semester due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“On behalf of the 2019-2020 UDaB Leadership team and Student Diversity and Inclusion, we regret to inform you that due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) all UDaB programs are cancelled for spring break this semester,” the statement read. “Our priority is the health and safety of our community and the communities we serve. As such, we are following University of Delaware protocol and taking precautionary measures.”
Students will not be financially responsible for their program fees, and no fees will be charged to student accounts, the statement also said.
Abby Palmer, one of the site leaders for UDaB, said the news was disappointing.
“We spent seven plus months planning this,” Palmer, a senior human services major with a concentration in administration and family policy, said.
Palmer first got involved with UDaB when she was a sophomore and “fell in love with it.” This semester, Palmer was supposed to be the site leader alongside Claire Fitzpatrick for WINGS for Kids and Lowcountry Food Bank in Charleston, South Carolina.
According to Palmer, the WINGS program is an after-school program that aims to help children in under-resourced areas. The team would have completed daily tasks at the food bank, helped the children with their schoolwork and learned about social justice issues such as equitable education.
“It really helps to provide [the children] with social and emotional learning,” Palmer said.
Guterbock believes that the values of UDaB can help both students and the local communities who may be affected by the pandemic.
“We have a duty to the student body,” Guterbock said. “Xenophobia is an issue, and we want to limit any hate or discrimination.”
Palmer hopes the pandemic will not affect the upcoming semester but said she feels worried that coronavirus has made the future of UDaB “unpredictable.”
“I think the reason that UDaB is so special is that it takes tons of students from all walks of life,” Palmer said. “You create such a unique bond with [the team] while working for a greater cause.”