BY KATIE CARLTON
For the first time in Drake Relays history, Forest Avenue will be blocked off with concrete barricades between 27th and 29th streets starting Thursday at 2 p.m. and lasting until Saturday night at 5 p.m., said Director of Public Safety Scott Law.
Law said that the biggest safety concern during Relays is the amount of students crossing back and forth between the campus and the stadium. By blocking off Forest Ave., it greatly reduces the chance of there being pedestrian traffic or an accident.
Law also said that there is a traditional concern every year that there will be lots of people who aren’t familiar with campus, so there will be an increased presence of Drake Public Safety and Des Moines police officers. CSC, an outside security firm, will also be hired for additional help.
“Relays is the cornerstone of the year for Drake students but also a major draw for the city of Des Moines for visitors and world class athletes,” Law said. “Everyone wants the event to go off safely without a hitch and not interfere with people’s enjoyment.”
Law said that nearby off-campus areas will also have Public Safety patrolling an additional three-mile radius, plus the Drake bus will have extended hours. The bus will run until 4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday nights.
The assistant dean of students and director of residence life, Lorissa Lieurance, said that the rules in place for residence life for this year’s Relays are the same as last year. The rules have been developed over the years based on experience and feedback from students and staff. The goals of the rules are to maintain the safety and security of the students in the residence halls.
In a memo sent out by Residence Life to students, the rules for residence halls include all exterior doors in the residence halls remaining locked starting at 4 p.m. on April 26 and ending at 12 p.m. on Apr. 29 and no open containers in the residence hall public areas during Relays. Students will be asked to throw away open containers before entering a residence hall, and guests will be required to check in at the front desk and leave a photo ID, just like any other time of the semester.
“When students and guests follow University rules and expectations, we do not experience any problems. However, when violations do occur, it is our responsibility to address them,” Lieurance said over an email.
At the Pre-Lays Safety event, Joe Campos, the associate dean of students, said that the safety of students is prioritized by Public Safety during Relays with the possibility of students drinking.
Campos said that just like any time during the semester, medical amnesty is available for students. If a student calls Public Safety for help for themselves or for a friend, they can ask for medical amnesty, so they can prioritize getting help over getting themselves, or a friend, in trouble.
“Look out for each other. Look out for yourself. Look out for your friends,” Campos said.