Last Thursday, the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA) held its 14th annual Homecoming bed races event.
During the event, 55 teams representing various campus organizations competed to raise donations to send to Roosevelt Elementary School in New Brunswick.
These teams raced on beds with wheels down Sicard Street in order to collect more than 3,000 donations of fidget toys and noise-canceling headphones for the school.
Sabrina Selvaggio, interim associate director of campus programs and advisor to RUPA, said the tradition of the bed races first started in 2008 and has become a major campus tradition for Homecoming. This year, approximately 2,000 spectators showed up in support of the event, she said.
“The program has solidified itself as one that builds community and contributes to the sense of belonging on campus,” Selvaggio said. “Over the years, the program has made significant impacts to the New Brunswick community through the charitable donations collected each year.”
Selvaggio said RUPA begins its planning for the bed races as early as the summer before the fall semester, which is when the organization starts reaching out to vendors to secure materials and hire a DJ for the event.
Every September, RUPA works to promote the event heavily to attract organizations to register, she said.
Any student club, department, residence hall or greek life organization on campus is allowed the opportunity to participate, though limited space is available for the event, she said.
Shivali Patel, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and secretary of F.A.C.E Modeling Team, discussed participating in the bed races for the first time with her club.
“This is the first year that F.A.C.E. has participated, but hopefully not the last,” Patel said. “I was a rider for the event, so my favorite part is definitely the part where I was holding onto the bed for dear life during the race.”
Patel said she has never attended the bed races prior, but this year the members of her club wanted to participate and reflect the club’s moral principles by decorating their bed.
“We really wanted to showcase the club's values in accepting your personal beauty,” Patel said. “We decorated the bed with vines, gold butterflies and red mannequin heads ... The riders wore all black outfits to let our natural beauty and personal confidence shine.”
Paolo Cucchi, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said he competed in the bed races with the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.
He said the fraternity decided to partake in the event because it was a good opportunity to donate to a cause and to engage with potential new members to join the organization.
He said the bed his fraternity used was decorated with the theme of characters from books by Dr. Seuss, who was a member of the same fraternity.
“We wanted to win, but once we saw the number of clubs competing, we felt lucky to make it to the semi-finals,” Cucchi said. “Next year, we are coming back for the win.”