Monday, January 15, 2007

MTV Coming to Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break

Register now for the 2007 Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break. It is March 12-16 in Austin. There is no participation fee for the Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break except for those people who need housing. It is being organized by Texas Students Against the Death Penalty.

MTV is planning to send a camera crew to this year's spring break. They will follow around the participants documenting their activities for a segment on MTV.

If you do not need housing, because you live in Austin or you are making your own housing arrangements, then your participation is free, but please register so we know how many people to expect.

Housing is available for a fee of $25 that covers five overnights. That's right! $25 for five nights. Where are you going to find a better housing deal? That's $5 a night. We will house participants in double rooms at a dormitory near the University of Texas at Austin. Most students will be at The Goodall Wooten, a few people will stay in a dorm near the Wooten. You will share the room with one or two other students. Participants are expected to travel to Austin at their own expense and pay for most of their meals and incidental expenses while in Austin.

Alternative Spring Breaks are designed to give students something more meaningful to do during their week off, rather than just spending time at the beach or sitting at home catching up on school work. The specific purpose of this Alternative Spring Break is to bring students to Austin for five days of anti-death penalty activism, education and entertainment.

We will provide participants with workshops that will teach them skills they can use to go back home and set up new anti-death penalty student organizations or improve ones that may already exist. The skills participants will learn can also be used in other issues besides the death penalty. Activities include a Death Penalty Issues Lobby Day and a direct action day.

Students will gain valuable training and experience in grassroots organizing, lobbying, preparing a direct action and media relations. They can apply what they learn against the death penalty or in their activities involving other issues.

Texas leads the nation by far in number of executions. Texas performed 45 percent of all the executions in the United States in 2006. Twenty-four people were executed in Texas 2006. There were 53 executions in the U.S. in 2006. Since the U.S Supreme Court ruling in 1976 that allowed executions to resume after a four-year period during which they were considered unconstitutional, there have been 1058 executions in the United States. Texas has performed 380 of those executions, which amounts to about 35 percent of the national total. According to the 2000 census, Texas has only 7.4 percent of the nation's entire population.

Although the majority of the participants will be students, this program is also a good opportunity for young people who are not students to become active. There are after all lots of young people who for various reasons don't go to college, but who want to do something against the death penalty. The events and workshops are also open to the general public of any age, although the housing is reserved for young people.

Quotes About Spring Break

"This is an historical echo to what happened in the 1960s when people came down to the South during the Civil Rights Movement to help people register to vote, what they called freedom summers. This is very similar to what was going on back then, but here the issue is the death penalty."

Scott Cobb, president Texas Moratorium Network

"I wanted to do something more meaningful during my Spring Break. I figured this would be the place where I could do that."

Chaunte Sterling, graduate of Sam Houston State University, who attended the 2005 alternative spring break in her senior year.

"We all had a simple understanding of the problems with the death penalty and after coming here, we've learned so much in detail about what goes on with capital punishment," Martellaro said. "It's just been so educational, because we all are in agreement that it is wrong and there are problems with the system, and this has been so specific, with so much information, that it really strengthened my beliefs."

Angela Martellaro, high school student from Shawnee, Kansas, who attended the 2006 alternative spring break.

"Students and youth have played a critical role in every major struggle for civil and human rights in this nation. Ending the abomination of capital punishment is the calling of this generation. Just as before, student activists will likely determine the future of this issue. You must be part of the debate and the action."

Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

"Participants will have plenty of free time to meet new friends, see the sights of Austin, and take in a couple of SXSW events if they want to. At the same time they're having fun, they're doing something positive by taking action on one of the major human rights issues of our time"

Hooman Hedayati, sophomore at UT-Austin and president of Texas Students Against the Death Penalty, who attended alternative spring break in 2005 as a high school senior.

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