Straight shot to Selma

New spring break trip to Alabama is in the works

Story by Meghan Hosely, Staff Writer

Students may know about a spring break trip to Indianapolis or the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, but a new trip will be available this spring to students: a spring break detour to Selma, Ala.

Students will receive nonviolence training and help build a new facility for the Freedom Foundation, which is partnering with UW-Eau Claire for this exchange.

The exchange will happen after Eau Claire students leave Selma. High school students from the Freedom Foundation will come to Eau Claire for a weekend in April to tour the two high schools and see a performance in Zorn Arena.

To many who go on the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, the stop to Selma leaves a lasting impression, Selma-Eau Claire Exchange Coordinator Ali Konz said. This sparked her to think of what else she can do to help the community of Selma.

“I wondered what I could do myself, since I’m into social change,” Konz said. “How can I apply that to my own life?”

Konz, an Eau Claire native, said she wasn’t aware of the segregation still happening in the South, or the poverty. To hear stories from people of her generation, and realize segregation is still going on, made her realize she should be helping.

Konz said she is not working alone. In WMNS 222, she and a few other students came up with the idea. One of the students, freshman Lexy Harris said everything is laid out, but there are still some barriers to overcome.

“We have the bus set, we have a sign-up sheet in the Blugold Beginnings office in Centennial, and we have a table in Centennial,” Harris said. “The biggest problem is getting people to come over to the table and to listen about why we’re sitting at the table,”

Konz said Associate Dean of Students Jodi Thesing-Ritter, Faculty-Staff coordinator of the Civil Rights Pilgrimage is also helping with the trip to Selma. She said as soon as Konz and Harris brought the idea to her attention, she was on board.

“It wouldn’t be possible if the students weren’t persistent … They have the same kind of motivation for this project as the group of students who started the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, and that’s why it’s going to happen,” Thesing-Ritter said. “They are so dedicated in making the world a more socially just place to live, and that’s really exciting.”

The 56-seat bus leaves on Sunday, March 16 for Selma and will return the following Saturday, March 22. The trip costs $275 for the seven-day trek, which includes all meals in Selma, along with a full 30 hours of service learning credit.