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The Scarlet & Black

Despite Dreary Weather, Relays are a Success

Contributed Photo Relay contestants after a competing in an event that involved foam.

The annual Grinnell Relays — a series of jovial competitions that are performed while studens are in various degrees of inebriation — has been a tradition since 1973. While sunny weather would have been preferred, this year’s Relays were a success despite the cold and wet conditions, with 50 teams competing.

Professor Wayne Moyer, political science, is to thank for bringing the hallowed tradition to campus. Moyer was inspired to start Relays when he came to Grinnell after earning his Ph.D. from Yale University. Speaking to The S&B in 2014, Moyer explained how he brought the event from his graduate school.

“During my last year at Yale, the Vietnam War looked like it was winding down and students were ready to let off a little steam at the end of the semester. And because there was nothing in particular to demonstrate against or protest, they thought, ‘Why not have a big party?’”

Nick Curta ’17 and Ariel Keller ’17, the students who were in charge of organizing Relays this year, made changes to the structure of the event to accommodate the rainy weather.

“Instead of spray painting the ground, we used flags. We had a big sound system this year so people could hear regardless of the weather and how far away they were,” Keller said, adding that they set up tents for the events to protect participants from the rain.

At the beginning of this school year, the College implemented strict new alcohol policies that posed some challenges for Curta and Keller.

“When [administration] implemented the rules, we tried to work with them to keep [Relays] as close to what is has been in the past,” Curta said. “We worked with [Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Wellness Prevention] Jen Jacobsen for harm reductive type things. That’s why we had the breakfast event this year … We tried to take care of people because we know even if you take alcohol away that’s served by the school, Relays is an event where people … drink before the lunch break or on their own.”

Curta has helped to organize Relays since his first year, and said that this year’s festivities were the best he had experienced.

“The biggest thing for me, why I stayed on all four years, is [seeing] how happy people get for an event that you’re throwing, and being able to give back to the community at large and the campus at large,” Curta said.

As Curta and Keller prepare to leave Grinnell, they will look back on Relays with fond memories and they look forward to bonding with new students over the tradition once they are alumni.

“It’s cool to see that participation [from students in Relays] continues to increase,” Keller said, “and that Professor Moyer who created the event in 1973 … continues to advocate for [Relays] and support us.”

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