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UD cuts ties with annual “Dayton 2 Daytona” trip

The University of Dayton will cut ties with “Dayton 2 Daytona,” the annual post-school year pilgrimage to Daytona Beach, according to an email university President Eric Spina sent faculty last month.

Spina said the university will “no longer provide logistical or staff support” on the trip, which is already arranged by a third-party tour company. The decision, Spina said, “does not prevent students from independently making their own arrangements for recreational travel with the current tour company or another travel agency.”

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The university’s decision “was made after carefully studying our involvement and is strongly supported by the Board of Trustees, the U.S. Society of Mary leadership, and the alumni association board leadership,” Spina said.

The trip has been an annual tradition for upperclassmen at UD since 1977, according to the “Dayton 2 Daytona” website. The most recent trip, which took place from May 8 to May 13, included a five-night stay at local hotels, a pig roast, free drinks and “pool deck parties” with a live D.J.

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Students walk Daytona beach during the annual Dayton to Daytona trip. WFTV (Staff Writer)

“In the University’s view, D2D does not advance our Catholic, Marianist educational mission, nor does it enhance the reputation or the value of a University of Dayton degree,” Spina wrote in a letter to faculty. “The University resources devoted to the trip will be better used to support the quality of the student learning and living environment on campus.”

The decision to cut ties with the trip has “been under consideration for a while,” UD spokeswoman Cilla Shindell said. The university’s decision to discontinue its affiliation now was not the result of any recent changes or incidents, Shindell told this news organization.

On its Instagram account, the “Dayton 2 Daytona” committee, the university-sanctioned group of students who organize the trip through a third-party organization, wrote, “We’re sad to share the unfortunate news that the University is dropping their affiliation with Dayton 2 Daytona. Do not be discouraged by the news, we are determined to make next year’s trip better than the last so stay tuned for more details to come.”

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In a separate email to students, Spina and Bill Fisher, the university’s vice president for student development, wrote that they asked Student Government Association leadership to work with alumni “to create a meaningful on-campus experience, such as a senior send-off, that can become a new tradition over time.”

In past years, UD sent a handful of staff members to Daytona Beach. The university would additionally provide “Daytona training” events to teach students about safety at the near week-long event.

The event, which occurs after the traditional spring break season, is an economic staple in Daytona Beach’s calendar. WFTV reported in 2013 that one of the four hotels housing Dayton students rented more than 200 rooms for roughly 800 guests.

At times, the annual trip has brought the school some unwanted attention.

In 2007, a UD student died of natural causes while on the annual trip. An autopsy revealed that the 22-year-old had an enlarged heart, which led to a cardiac arrest that caused his death. Though the autopsy reported a presence of alcohol in the student's system, it had no connection to his death.

In 2012, this newsroom’s sister station WFTV in Orlando reported that more than 2,000 students went on the trip. That same year it was reported that beach lifeguards had to rescue more than 40 intoxicated students, WFTV reported.

“My favorite thing is probably just the environment,” a student told WFTV in 2013. “It’s like 3,000 of your best friends coming down on vacation together.”

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