The Panhellenic and Interfraternity councils will aim to promote mental health awareness and fundraise for campus resources at its inaugural Row Run Sunday.
Runners will travel a nearly two-mile course through the Row, down University Avenue and through campus to end back at Greek Row. Twenty-eighth Street will also be closed during the event. All proceeds from the run will go toward USC Student Health mental health resources.
Robert Tiscareno Jr. and Thomas Mehdi, two former philanthropy chairs of the Sigma Nu fraternity, started planning the event in Spring 2019 as a philanthropic event led by their fraternity. But the duo expanded the event to reach a larger portion of the USC community after partnering with Undergraduate Student Government and USC Student Health.
“[Mental health] is something that in some sense has affected everyone and maybe not directly an individual, but they know someone that has been affected,” Tiscareno said.
IFC President Matteo Mendoza said Tiscareno and Medhi presented the idea and IFC decided to support the event on a larger scale.
“We thought what’s one issue that you can pertain to anyone regardless of who you are and we decided that mental health issues [are] something that can affect anyone,” Mehdi, a junior majoring in business administration, said.
Mendoza, a junior majoring in business administration, then took charge by coordinating with the various external organizations that IFC has since partnered with to establish the Row Run as a university-wide event.
“I think everybody is incredibly excited about this opportunity for us to all come together for a good cause, that being raising awareness and proceeds for mental health initiatives on campus,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza said he hopes to hold the event every year and grow it to attract local sponsors and faculty and staff members as well.
USG President Trenton Stone said student government decided to partner with the event to raise more money for mental health resources on campus.
“Mental health and well-being are issues that affect the entire USC community,” he said. “When they talked about a Row Run, I definitely wanted to be able to help expand that to include more people across USC rather than just people who are involved in Greek life.”
Department of Public Safety Lt. Mark Cervenak said that IFC presented its plans for the Row Run during a department meeting.
“There was a number of USC stakeholders at that meeting including management services, transportation services, fire and safety, hospitality, and we discussed it thoroughly,” Cervenak said. “The big question, of course, is that it is going to affect the streets and areas around the campus. We need to make sure for the overall safety of the event that there is a law enforcement presence and a traffic control presence.”
Cervenak also said DPS discussed ensuring the safety of those in the neighborhood, and on Sunday, officers will be present.
Tiscareno, a junior majoring in real estate development, said all the event’s proceeds will be donated to mental health initiatives at USC.
USC Student Health has said it will open the fifth floor of the Engemann Student Health Center, which will be dedicated solely to long-term mental health resources including additional counselors, by the end of the semester.
USG held a town hall Oct. 24 where several students expressed concerns about the accessibility and effectiveness of USC’s current mental health resources. Nearly 100 students, faculty and staff attended the USC Inter-Health Council’s Student Health Town Hall in February to tell a panel of faculty and Student Health officials about long wait times for mental health services and low counselor-to-student ratios.
To sign up, Tiscareno said students can buy $10 tickets online at RaceRoster.com or for $15 in-person Sunday.
Since the event was first pitched in February, Tiscareno said it has grown beyond its original scope, both in terms of the organizations involved and the positive response thus far.
“The event right now has been taken to a place that we didn’t imagine that it would go,” Tiscareno said.
Maria Eberhart and Sasha Urban contributed to this report.