For the first time, chance will partly determine which students are selected for Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips this year.

Though in past years the selection process was based solely on the evaluation of applications, this year, the application—which includes five short essays—will be just one component of the "weighted lottery" process that the McKeen Center will use to choose participants.

"The McKeen Center recognizes that all students deserve to go on a trip...and this method may be a way to reach that," said McKeen Fellow for the ASB program Krista Bahm '11, who coordinates the program in conjunction with head tennis coach and ASB Coordinator Colin Joyner '03.

Applications will be reviewed and assigned a numerical value, which will be fed, along with data such as whether or not the student has previously been on a trip into a "random number generator" that will select participants.

The fact that the lottery takes into account whether or not a student has been on a trip will, according to Bahm, hopefully ensure that more students will be able to participate at least once over the course of four years.

There are 73 spots open for this spring's trips, which will each consist of 12 to 15 students, including two student leaders.

Last year the ASB program received close to 140 applications and Bahm says that they expect to receive a comparable amount this year.

"The program has only grown in the past few years," Bahm said.

First year Tom Ferlito, who hopes to go on a trip "either this year or next year," seemed conflicted about the switch to the lottery method of selection.

"I mean on one hand it seems kind of unfair, like it should be really be based on merit," Ferlito said, "but on the other hand they do have a lot of applications and being a good writer doesn't necessarily make you more deserving of a chance to go on a service trip."

Bahm said that even though the essays—which pose questions like "What is your greateast strength when working in a group?"—don't carry as much weight in the application process as they did in years past, they help the trip leaders during the planning stages to tailor the trip to their particular group.

The ASB program offers seven trips this year, including one international trip to Guatemala.

"The one international trip usually receives the most applications," said Bahm, "but we anticipate interest in all the trips will be high."

Junior Jasmine Mikami speaks highly of the week she spent in Camden, New Jersey, working at the Urban Promise school where she worked doing odd jobs, helping with its arts sale and learning about urban education.

Mikami stated that she would "definitely" recommend the experience of an ASB trip to other students.

"It was a great experience," she said.

Mikami's personal experience inspired her to organize her own trip through the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship.

"It is going to be in New Orleans and it is the second week of spring break so people can do ASB too," Mikami said.

The ASB trips range in cost from $350 to $1,180, but scholarships are available for students with financial need. Participation also includes weekly meetings from December through March.

Applications for ASB are due by October 26 at 5 p.m. and applicants will receive a decision by November 9.