To the Editor,

I appreciate Mr. Hamilton’s writing about Alternative Spring Break (ASB) in an article titled “Paid vacation doesn’t count as an act of service,” in the April 12, 2012 issue of the Rebel Yell. On second thought, no I don’t.

Mr. Hamilton has failed to provide crucial numbers for which an educated reader can decide upon whether ASB was a fiscal waste. One question is how much would the trip have cost without the apparent “assistance” from taxpayers? Without that number no one can make a conclusion about wasted funds. By comparing cost without assistance and cost with assistance the amount of alleged waste can be determined. Another number is neeeded. How much fundraising was held by the ASB students on their own? I am aware that other schools have to raise their own funds for ASB. It would have given merit to Hamilton’s argument if that number were also disclosed (the amount fundraised). Fail and fail.

Now for some enlightening perspectives from someone that’s been on a trip similar to ASB. In a past summer, I along with several other students travelled to Denmark to study renewable energy. There were several times when supposed “fun activities” were scheduled. These may have even been considered wasteful. A trip to the Viking museum (similar to a trip to Alcatraz by our aforementioned ASB students) was planned. There was also plenty of time to have a drink or two. In other words, there was time to have fun. In the end we all produced remarkable papers and made lifelong friends. Without the fun times, there would not be that network building opportunity to forge lifetime friendships. To this day I still text my friends about the fun in their lives as well as their renewable energy projects. Three started a solar thermal company, Suntherm, in UC Merced.

Without the numbers for a proper analysis, your argument is as good as your experience, which you have none. You admit “Since I didn’t go on this trip, I cannot be certain of the details of the itinerary.” No, I don’t work for Fox News, but I can take quotes out of context too, ha ha. Regardelss, you can call what I did Alternative Summer Break. Was it taxpayer funded? Yes, professors came along to forge friendships with colleagues abroad. A flight was at least $3000-$6000 (there’s my number). The other number, $0, is what the professors likely paid.

In the following year, Danish students came to California to study US renewable energy projects. With the ASB trip to San Francisco, one can make the argument that in the future Californians could travel to Las Vegas and aid our AIDS community. I’m sure they’ll hit the Strip too. Your oppinioned articled ends with “There is one lesson we can all take from this circus: service can and should start right here at home”. This is America. Nevada and California are on the same soil, we are on the same side, and this country is our home. There is one lesson we can all take from this poor example of journalism: without the numbers we risk taxpayers to be make opinions based on fluff instead of facts.

-Juan C.


To the Editor,

I wanted to personally reach out and give my sincerest appreciation for an article recently published in Rebel Yell.  The article was written by Ryan Hamilton and is titled “Paid vacation doesn’t count as an act of service” published on April 12, 2012.

Not only are we thankful for the direct mention of our organization (and me, by name) but we are even more thankful for the light that Mr. Hamilton is shedding on this overseen issue.  As a newer nonprofit, one would think that funding is the hardest obstacle.  While this is true, an equally challenging obstacle is the “competition” from other organizations that have gained many followers over the years.

Without looking at where their money is going (including taxpayers) people are donating to causes and organizations that use their money to vacation and seek outside resources when there are so many people in need right here in the Las Vegas/Henderson area.  Even though the evidence is clearly outlined in their posted tax returns, no one takes the time to verify the integrity of the organizations they donate to.

There are literally hundreds and thousands of people affected by HIV or AIDS (either by being infected with HIV or knowing someone who is; coworker, neighbor, lover, sibling, parent, etc.) living right here in Southern Nevada.  What Mr. Hamilton is saying in his article increases the public’s awareness of this growing problem.

Organizations, both charitable and educational, should be held accountable for their spending.  Perhaps if more people demanded tighter administrative budgets, valuable programs would not have to be shut down.

Thank you for your time. Please send my sincere appreciation to Mr. Hamilton for his noble stand for the integrity of organizations serving those affected by HIV or AIDS.

-Thomas Lahey

President and Director, I’m Positive, Inc.


Featured Letters to the Editor run as originally posted and are only edited for length.