BY KAILEE SMITH
Every year, for one week, thousands of people visit Drake University’s campus to watch one of the highly anticipated events of the year: the Drake Relays. And, every year, it causes a parking cluster for students, faculty and fans alike.
“The Drake Relays are literally my favorite time of the year,” sophomore Kennedy Frank said. “I look forward to them every year, even if it is hectic around campus and I can’t find a parking spot for my dorm.”
In years past, the Drake Relays has caused much congestion between the blocks of 31st street and 25th street. This year, the university has made some plans to alleviate some of this traffic.
“We open up parking lots that are vacant throughout the year, such as the one on 28th and College Avenue, to people who attend the Drake Relays,” said Brady Randall, Drake’s facilities director. “But we do charge $10 per lot, so no matter what we do, there will always be traffic congestion and people complaining when trying to find parking.”
Even though vacant lots will open for the event, the price of parking will stay the same as previous years. This price of parking could force more cars on the streets around campus, so some students are encouraged to walk or take the bus when deciding to leave campus.
“It sucks,” junior Madison Dean said. “I am constantly driving from class to basketball practice and vice versa throughout the day. I rely on driving to get anywhere on time, so not having parking reserved is actually a real hassle for me.”
Like Dean, many students are aggravated by the parking fiasco. Because of this, Drake Public Safety (DPS) is going to do what they can to help pacify student frustrations.
Along with adding parking to the area, DPS has said it will be monitoring the student and faculty overnight and commuter parking lots more closely over the week to find cars without proper parking tags. They will also aim to direct fans to their designated lots.
“We are going to make sure cars in all of the student lots have parking tags,” said Tricia McKinney, the assistant director of Drake Public Safety. “If they don’t, we will give a warning and the car could have the potential to be towed.”
Even though DPS will be scanning student lots frequently, there’s no guarantee fans won’t park there. For the greatest chance to find a spot, DPS advises students with parking tags to park in the lots directly across from the Goodwin-Kirk and Morehouse residence halls.
“We want to patrol the lots, and we will warn people in advance about the lots that are acceptable to be used,” McKinney said. “But we also have to keep in mind that we may miss people or people may park in the student lots by confusion.”
Although the focus of Relays isn’t solely on students, DPS recognizes that Drake’s campus is home to students.
“We have to keep our students in mind,” DPS Special Events Coordinator Captain Mark Risvold said. “This is their home. They don’t have anywhere to escape when things get overwhelming. We have to make sure they feel as though we are looking out for their best interests and satisfying their needs.”