Biloxi trip a noble idea

Far too often it may seem we focus our opinions on negative news, such as stories about the war in Iraq or tuition increases.

Quite frankly, it’s easy to have an opinion about something when it’s gone wrong. Feelings of anger and disappointment are perhaps the easiest to pen.

But what’s often not as noticed – and this is the case for all media – is good news.

So we’re not the first to say it, and we certainly won’t be the last, but the Kent State United for Biloxi volunteer trip is a great idea.

Starting tomorrow and continuing through April 1, more than 400 students, faculty, staff and community members will travel to Pass Christian and Biloxi, Miss., during the university’s Spring Break in an effort to help residents of the area devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The volunteers will participate in projects including the reconstruction of homes, medical clinics and childcare facilities, and beach clean-up, and they may offer basic medical services to area residents.

Leading the group are Ron Perkins, assistant director of University Dining Services; Gary Padak, dean of Undergraduate Studies; and George Garrison, professor of Pan-African studies. Garrison already has done some relief work in the Gulf area with the Kent State Hurricane Relief Coalition.

That’s right. These students are skipping the road trips with friends, the clubs and the alcohol. They won’t be laying on the beach – they’ll be cleaning it. And they certainly won’t be in some overpriced hotel – they’ll be staying in tents.

Quite a Spring Break.

This trip speaks volumes against any stereotype that college students are alcoholic, sex-crazed deviants looking for an excuse for a week of debauchery in Panama City, Fla.

It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that college students would actually want to spend their one week off during the spring semester to help rebuild a city that has nothing to do with their lives. And they’re paying to go – the trip is costing volunteers about $300, including food, lodging and transportation.

Although the hundreds of volunteers will be working on numerous projects during the trip, group leaders have expressed an “every-little-bit-helps” mentality.

“We’re not suffering delusions that we are going to make a great impact,” Garrison said in January. “We think that whatever help we can do, in conjunction with what everyone else is doing, will actually make a big solution to the problems.”

The trip also has unified a diverse group of people for the cause. According to the university, more than half of the volunteers are Kent State students, and in excess of 50 volunteers from the University of Akron are part of the contingent.

“This university has made one of the largest humanitarian commitments to this cause,” Garrison said.

We agree, and we’re proud Kent State is making such an effort.

The above editorial was the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board. Aman Ali, student affairs reporter who will be traveling to Biloxi with the volunteers, was not part of the editorial writing process.