Springfest, Relay need to coordinate dates

Springfest is what brings us together.

It is that glorious time of year when every non-Californian USC student can pretend he is on The O.C. assuming the show was ever edgy enough to land a performer like T-Pain. The annual attraction is eagerly awaited by students because of the food, comraderie and performances.

Rita Yeung | Daily Trojan

Unless, of course, you are one of the many participants in USC’s Relay for Life, which takes place a hop, skip and organized walk away from Springfest on Cromwell, and which, for the third consecutive year, is scheduled on the same night as Springfest.

The two are admittedly very different affairs. Springfest is a glitzy USC tradition, replete with A-listers, games and food trucks. Relay for Life is a national fundraising function promoted by the American Cancer Society.

Relays take place across the world, and the event has raised more than $3 billion since its inception in 1986. In previous years, USC has raised more than $100,000.

But it’s hard to compete with Mos Def.

Three years ago, when Relay and Springfest were first held concurrently, organizers for both events said they had been unaware of the other’s date.

Last year, an attempt to better schedule the two was foiled by a lack of communication, according to a Daily Trojan article.

Richie Pizano, executive director of Program Board, told the Daily Trojan last year the conflict was regrettable.

“Having both on the same day does hinder both events,” he said. “But at the same time, not everyone is at one event at the same time. If students are already on campus, it’s easy to move back and forth, so it does help.”

Scheduling McCarthy Quad in April is an admittedly formidable task, as it’s a popular venue for both campus and community activities.

What’s more, the Relay for Life committee has to compete with track meets and other philanthropic events get a weekend on the track.

Nonetheless, three years in a row is too many to blame the conflict on lack of communication or options.

Pizano was right; the conflict does hinder both events, though it’s reasonable to posit Relay for Life takes a bigger hit.

The fundraiser can’t boast the carnival atmosphere or celebrity appearances.

This year’s Relay will reportedly feature writer and USC alum Zack Jerome of the regionally popular Lost Angeles blog. Jerome’s a talented blogger, but he can’t compete with the Program Board’s top-billed act.

And Relay for Life’s purpose isn’t to pull in famous acts, anyway. Rather, it’s a community effort, a genuine example of Trojans and Angelenos coming together for a good cause.

Relay is an uplifting reminder of the reason why USC is a leader in community service and philanthropy.

The event shouldn’t have to prove its popularity over Rooney.

It’s time for both scheduling committees to get their acts together. Three years is enough to prove each event draws enough students to justify holding the events on separate nights.

If all other reasons to resolve the date conflict fall on deaf ears, there is one last case to make.

At every Relay for Life event, as darkness falls and participants begin to set up campgrounds on the track, candles are lit one-by-one and placed in paper bags, each bearing the name of someone who has fought cancer. Surrounding the field, these lights are called luminaria.

As the sepia glow illuminates the track, relayers walk in silence, commemorating those who have survived and those who haven’t. The mood isn’t somber, but reverent. For one hour, only syncopated footfalls are heard.

That, and the thousands of students screaming across campus as Mos Def does his sound check.


Lucy Mueller is a senior majoring in cinema-television production. Her column, “Everything is Copy,” runs every other Thursday.