This fall, the future of the Crum Regatta remained uncertain when the alumni office stopped hosting the event and it was removed from the calendar, with no explanation, during Garnet Weekend. However, after OSE took over the event and moved it to the spring, the Regatta successfully took place last weekend.
The Crum Regatta, which has been taking place since the 1970s, involves students creating their own boats or rafts and racing them down Crum Creek. Students are allowed to use Plastic, Rubber, Wood, Rope, and Tape to craft their boats. One student must remain on the boat or raft at all times throughout the race. The team that gets there first wins. However, teams can also win awards for best Crum Regatta spirit, most innovative use of materials, best thematic approach, and most noble seafarer. Students sign up for the event through a Google Doc sent out to the entire school in an email.
For the past twenty years Martin Warner, the Registrar, has been the head “Commodore” but Andrew Barclay, Director of Student Activities, officiated the event this year. It was announced this fall that the alumni office would no longer run the event. The Office of Student Engagement (OSE) took over the event. While there was some initial worry that the event would not happen this year, OSE expanded the event and put their own spin on the tradition.
OSE Graduate Assistant John Kinsey said that OSE tried to expand the event to focus on larger community goals around sustainability.
“This year, the OSE hopes to expand the scope of the Crum Regatta to include a stronger focus on sustainability and the environmental history of the Crum. We are teaming up with some ENVS [enviromental studies] students who will speak about our community’s relationship with the surrounding natural spaces,” wrote Kinsey.
Alexa Specht ’22 appreciated the new focus on the environment and believes when building boats for the Regatta, students should be mindful about the waste they are creating. She thinks this speaks to a large effort on campus to be more aware of how our actions affect the environment.
“It’s important to remember that all of our actions affect the environment, for example, how much of these materials [used to build the boats] will be later thrown away, so that we can take sustainability into account in all of our actions,” wrote Specht.
Kinsey said that OSE wanted to better incorporate the event into Swarthmore’s larger community goals of being sustainable.
“This is OSE’s first year hosting the Crum Regatta, so we’re going into it with the hope of creating a more inclusive and broadly appealing event that relates to the strong culture of sustainability at Swarthmore…We are also shaping parts of the event around creative suggestions from students, who saw the potential in the Crum Regatta to spread awareness and love for the environment,” wrote Kinsey.
Kinsey stated that it was this goal that caused the Crum Regatta to permanently move from the Fall semester to the Spring.
“The Regatta was traditionally a Fall Semester event, but this year we are hoping to build upon the spirit of Earth Day and the glorious arrival of Spring in order to emphasize the message,” wrote Kinsey.
Megan Strachan ’21, an engineering major, participated in the race for the first time this year. She appreciated the change in time of the event because there were fewer schedule conflicts.
“We [the team she created the boat with] wanted to but we were too busy on Alumni Weekend. This time it was in the Spring,” said Strachan.
Kira Emmons ’20, who is an engineering major and has participated in the Crum Regatta in the past, felt that spring might be less of an ideal to time hold the event because of the weather.
“I think the biggest downside of holding the event in the spring instead of the fall is that the water is very cold,” wrote Emmons.
She is happy, however, that the tradition is continuing after some doubt about the event’s future this fall.
“On the whole, though, I’m just relieved that the tradition is continuing, since its future seemed uncertain when it mysteriously disappeared from the Garnet weekend schedule,” wrote Emmons.
Kevin Dee ’22 attend the event for the first time this spring and thought the Regatta was a fun way for students to unwind and express creativity.
“It was a good experience. It was nice to see people working on projects because they wanted to, not because it was part of a lab or a course,” said Dee.
Specht echos that sentiment and says the event was a great experience.
“It was really fun to see the work everyone put in, or didn’t, to their boats. I was there to support a team of my friends, and I think the most fun part was cheering them on,” wrote Specht.
Kinsey stated that OSE also expanded the event to include events after the race.
“The event will also include a Paper Boat Race and marshmallow roasting around the Crum Henge fire as fun options for community members who choose not to participate in the main race event,” wrote Kinsey.
For now, the plan remains for OSE to continue holding the Regatta in the spring.