Stony Brook’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG) is supporting an initiative to cancel classes on the day of Roth Regatta to encourage student participation in the event.
This time honored tradition is typically held on a Friday. Students competing in Roth Regatta make elaborately designed boats out of nothing but cardboard and duct tape and race each other across Roth Pond. Last year, the event was recognized as the winner of the National Association for Campus Activities’ (NACA) “Your Best Campus Tradition” contest.
Kenneth Meserole, sophomore biology major and newly elected College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) senator for next year, is leading the initiative.
“I really think to encourage students to not only participate and actually watch but also involve themselves in the event itself, I think that classes should be canceled,” Meserole said.
Besides gaining USG support, he is gauging student interest in the proposal. His most recent poll, posted on USG’s Facebook account last week, has been filled out by over 200 students, with the majority in favor of the initiative.
Because of Stony Brook’s high commuter population, Meserole is concerned that moving the event to a weekend would actually decrease attendance.
“It’s a fun event, and certainly people who want to go will go, but I think that for the vast majority of people, people who have weekend jobs, people who just have obligations on the weekend that they can’t be there, I think that that would be a really big limiting factor in this initiative,” he said.
Meserole also believes that moving the event back a few hours could be a safety hazard.
“Although the event only lasts for a few hours, students tend to linger around up until about sundown,” he said. “If we decide to move the event to a later time, I feel like that would be a safety concern, especially being in an environment near water, where some students engage in activities that aren’t approved by the university, for a lack of a better way to describe it.”
Ayyan Zubair, the current president of USG, thinks that the initiative is feasible.
“I mean, do I think it’s going to happen tomorrow?” Zubair said. “No, it’s going to take some planning, but I definitely do think it’s feasible. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and certainly, USG has been at the forefront of spearheading student initiatives like this in the past, and I’m very glad that Ken will continue this tradition.”
The university did not indicate whether or not it would support Meserole’s proposition.
“Roth Regatta, a time-honored and very popular tradition at Stony Brook University, takes place on the last day of classes in the spring semester and offers students an opportunity to blow off steam before finals,” Alida Almonte, a university media relations manager, wrote in an email, although the Regatta is not on the last day of classes. “The Office of Undergraduate Education recommends against making campaign promises on matters driven by academic requirements for student success, such as class time.”