UMass Amazing Race continues outreach from UMass Police Department to student body

Continuing the UMass tradition

Nina+Walat

Nina Walat

By John Buday, Collegian Staff

This semester the University of Massachusetts hosted its Amazing Race, a challenge which saw 31 teams compete in a series of riddles, puzzles and challenges across campus. The race is part of an effort by the UMass Police Department to build meaningful relationships with the student body.

Teams wore black and yellow, the representative colors for this semester’s race, and crowded inside Wilder Hall on Friday. Chatter continued until 7:30 p.m. when UMPD Lieutenant Thomas O’Donnell called participants outside to go over the rules.

“It is called the Amazing Race,” Wei Cai said, a senior BDIC and journalism student who helps coordinate events for the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success. “However, they encourage people not to overdo themselves or run, which sounds silly, but it’s all for safety and it also helps people have a really fun, positive night.”

The UMPD Community Outreach Unit sponsored the event alongside the Men & Masculinities Center and Student Union Craft Center. Teams consisted of three participants, each having until 10 p.m. to complete challenges offered at nine campus pit-stops. O’Donnell followed the action between pit-stops in his police cruiser.

After the first trial where participants used a key to open twine locks attached to benches across the street from Wilder, teams moved on to trials in Berkshire Dining Commons, the Recreation Center, the Integrated Sciences Building and other spots around campus.

Berkshire reserved a room to hang several dozen cider donuts on strings, where two team members were required to eat a donut off of a string without using their hands.

Students at the Integrated Sciences Building meanwhile, had to dunk three ping pong balls into a plastic cylinder from two floors up. One teammate was on the ground floor and another was above them with the balls.

Other challenges resembled more of a scavenger hunt. For example, students at a gallery in the Fine Arts Center searched for specific paintings by characteristics.

The night concluded with chicken wings and pizza back at Wilder where Lt. O’Donnell announced the winners of the race. In third place, “New Mass Island” won three $25 Target gift cards. Team members included UMass students Paige Bertuch, Elizabeth Poirier and Charlotte Bell.

In second place, “Da Bros” won three $35 Target gift cards. Team members included UMass students Donovan Walls, Nutan Kollipara and Josh Okon.

Then, clinching first place, “Jumbo Shrimp” were rewarded with three $50 Target gift cards. Team members included sophomores Erica Jackson, Jessalyn Kaur and Ashley Luu.

“It was great just to work as a team,” Jackson said. “We’re roommates, and it was just so nice to communicate with each other and cooperate to win.”

“We competed last year and we got like, 39th so this definitely, it was a good comeback,” she added, laughing.

O’Donnell coordinated the first race with CMASS about eight years ago after watching “The Amazing Race” TV show on CBS. He said UMPD and CMASS work well together, and that the department has built “a good rapport with the students.”

Cai also said CMASS has developed a wonderful relationship with the police department, one that “many universities strive to have,” and he thinks that relationship grows every year.

UMPD Chief Tyrone A. Parham, who was stationed outside a University Health Services pit-stop, said the race, which is held each semester, provides students with the opportunity to see their department is made up of human beings.

Parham said interacting with the student body is “huge.”

“Particularly if you’ve noticed… it’s a variety of students from all populations across campus, including some international students, so not everyone has had any interaction with police,” Parham said. “So, they get to see us in a different light than maybe what they may see on social media or TV.”

In addition to the race, UMPD also hosts events throughout the school year, including the Coffee with a Cop program that occurred last week, where students met with officers to talk about personal issues.

This Tuesday, on Oct. 8, the department will host their annual USafe event, where officers and collaborating partners, “will discuss a range of safety issues on and off campus,” according to the UMass website.

John Buday can be reached at [email protected].