Drake’s Student Activities Board (SAB) required registered student organizations participating in street painting to attend Road Races this year, in a new set of rules implemented during the 2023 Relays week.
Dating back to the 1970s, student organizations paint an individual square on painted street with the help of their own members. It’s a well-known tradition at Drake that signifies the beginning of Relays Week.
However, this year there was a noticeable change in the rules, as SAB required all organizations with squares to have at least five members attend the Road Races on Sunday, April 23, with organizations required to check in by 7 a.m. to cheer on runners.
Organizations were offered an incentive with the new rule, $500 to the organization with the best cheer section. Those that did not send at least five members to the Road Races would be banned from having a square on Painted Street in 2024.
These new rules led to mixed reactions from a number of organizations. Frances Gray, a sophomore in Kappa Alpha Theta, expressed positive thoughts toward the new rule.
“The runners are really happy to see us here. I think it’s really cool that we get to support them,” Gray said. “Relays are such a cool tradition, so I think it’s a good idea.”
Other students, such as sophomore Nora Will, also had positive thoughts about attending the Road Races.
“I think it’s really fun. It’s a good way to get out and support the community,” Will said. “It was really cold, but that’s okay. I think it’s good to encourage organizations to support the community.”
However, not all the reactions to the new rule were positive. Members of smaller organizations said they faced difficulty getting members to attend the Road Races.
“It was definitely a challenge,” said Tyler Bartolome, a junior in Tri Beta. “Tri Beta is not a large organization, and so getting people out here was really difficult, particularly at 7 a.m. on a Sunday. I understand that it’s for a good cause and a good effort, but for small organizations, it’s definitely a struggle.”
Other students, such as Dawson Urquidez, a junior in Sigma Chi, said they understood why the rules were put into place but acknowledged that students had other commitments outside of attending Road Races.
“I think it’s a great way to make sure that Drake students are getting involved in the community,” Urquidez said. “I do think it’s a little rough to be getting Drake students up this early on a Sunday morning, especially with Saturday night events and stuff. I think if they want to make it mandatory, they should take into account the fact that everybody who’s here has stuff going on outside of this. It is a little weird because everybody already misses a lot of school and other obligations for Relays and it feels like just one more thing that’s kind of getting in the way at times.”
When asked why this new rule was put into place, Eva Kellen, the Relays Co-Chair for SAB, said it’s about more than just the students.
“Drake Relays isn’t just about the students,” Kellen said. “It’s about the community and it’s important that we interact with them and bring us all together.”
After both street painting dates and Road Races, the SAB posted a statement on Instagram on Monday, April 26, apologizing for any miscommunication surrounding Relays and related events.
“We would like to apologize for any miscommunication that we’ve had so far about Relays and the events surrounding it. SAB has not been communicating well and we apologize,” the post said. “We are going to do our best to convey information effectively moving forward.”
This statement came one day after organizations attended Road Races. It is unclear whether this statement was issued because of street painting or the new rule requiring organizations to attend Road Races. It is yet to be seen if organizations that did not attend Road Races will be banned from street painting next year.
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