Street painting is a favorite Relays tradition amongst Drake students, but some students do not understand the process behind how the squares are chosen.
When the Relays theme, “Like Never Before,” was announced on April 12, Blitz Day, organizations are invited to pick up an information packet with the rules about entering a design. Each organization is invited to submit a design on an 8.5-by-8.5-inch paper square. Designs must be in full color and drawn by hand.
“Designs have to be submitted exactly how they’re going to draw them,” said Braeden McElmury, a Student Activities Board (SAB) Relays co-chair. “It can’t be a sketch. It has to be in full color, as precise as possible.”
McElmury said some of the biggest issues are when squares have not been sketched well, or even come in drawn in crayon.
Designs were due at 5 p.m. the Monday, April 17. McElmury emphasized that squares are not looked at until after the deadline.
“Squares (are) judged based on creativity, uniqueness and incorporation of the Relays theme in the design,” McElmury said. “It’s not first-come, first-serve.”
The two Relays co-chairs (this year, McElmury and junior Anna Jensen), SAB President Nick Jenderko, and SAB’s advisor, Kodee Wright, judge the square designs.
Feedback for the designs comes the same night as the due date. Some square designs are chosen immediately, while others are asked for a revision that would be due at 5 p.m. the following night, although some designs are nixed right away.
McElmury said the decision can become difficult when there are a number of similar designs, but that it is possible for some of the similar designs to be asked for revision or for the squares to be distributed in different places along the street if all the designs are picked.
“We have to get to this end goal of making the street complete,” McElmury said.
Once the squares are chosen and the street has been whitewashed, it is painted in its entirety on the Friday before Relays week, barring a delay like bad weather.
Organizations will be allowed to paint the background color from 9 to 11 a.m. Designs may be sketched from 2 to 4 p.m., but squares may not be painted until 4 p.m. Street painting officially lasts until 7 p.m., but organizations have until 8:30 p.m. Friday night to complete the square. At 4 p.m., all students are allowed to come to the street for the annual paint fight that usually breaks out between students. Those students do not have to be involved in painting a square for an organization, but they do have to provide their own paint.
If an organization fails to finish its square or breaks one of the many other rules, such as deviating from the approved design, they forfeit their square, which will be given to an alternate group.
What makes a good design?
“I really like squares that surprise me or are really outside of the box, something I wouldn’t have thought about in relation to the theme,” Jenderko said.
McElmury said color is especially important in square designs.
“You can’t have a black and white square … It definitely has to be colorful, and the more color, usually the better,” McElmury said. “But, it has to be just a really well thought out design.”
“We try to look for a variety of designs, unique designs,” Jenderko said. “And we try to be as unbiased as possible when it comes to different organizations. And we really, strictly just focus on the designs that we are presented with.”
Both McElmury and Jenderko stressed that painted street squares should not be meant as advertisements for student groups.
The decision on which groups get squares is chiefly based on the design, not on the organizations it represents.
“There are no quotas for any organization and any type of organization,” Jenderko said.
McElmury said the rumor that only a certain number of Greek organizations can make the street is untrue.
“If all five sororities are fabulous and have designs, they will all make the street,” McElmury said.