At some schools, stripping down is a serious sport. Here are seven colleges that place streaking on par with other organized athletic endeavors.
Hamilton College’s varsity streaking team, Streak to Win, is dedicated to destroying the competition with their athletic prowess and, of course, bare skin. Like any sports team, they have plenty of away games. During fall of 2008, the 18-person team launched their tour de force, streaking 12 peer institutions in a five-day span.
At Dartmouth, ambitious athletes complete the Ledyard Challenge – a brutal test of speed and physical conditioning. Athletes strip down, swim across the Connecticut River to Vermont, and then sprint across the bridge back to New Hampshire. Because streaking is illegal in New Hampshire, athletes have hidden out for hours on the Vermont side of the border — where streaking is a-ok — to avoid being apprehended by the Hanover Police.
Denison has an entire week in February dedicated to streaking and other naked revelry. Each night of Naked Week has a different theme — formal night, animal night, war paint night, zombie night, etc. — and participants do their best to accessorize accordingly. Naked Week culminates in a frigid, clothes-less Ultimate Frisbee game on Saturday. Students meet on the quad and play until they’re tired or lose sensation in their limbs. Then they return to their rooms and try to figure out how they’re going to explain the embarrassing frostbite to their physicians.
Williams College in Massachusetts has a large, loosely organized streaking team known as the Springstreakers. Each semester during finals period, team members quietly sneak into the library before going on a rampage, running naked through the stacks and screaming, “Study harder!” In recent years, the team has also streaked freshman orientation, a Psych 101 lecture, countless Super Bowl parties and a Fox News interview with former Massachusetts governor Jane Swift. The team has a few rules that it (mostly) follows: only streak while sober, never streak children, and only streak events worth being streaked/struck/stricken. (Grammar varies by region.)
At 10 p.m. on the 13th and 31st of every month (or the 26th for months without 31 days), Rice students run around campus wearing nothing but shoes and shaving cream. Each run attracts between 2 and 196 adventurous athletes who streak the campus, fending off attackers armed with water balloons and hoses. The event happens year-round, but Halloween is the most popular — and the most dangerous. In 2008, a student shattered a window while attempting to stamp his buttocks on the pane and had to be rushed to the hospital. This past fall, another student broke the very same window during the Halloween streak.
Like any other Tar Heels game, the bi-annual finals week run draws hundreds of onlookers. Streakers run down each floor of Davis Library, outside into the student union, and then across the courtyard and into the Undergraduate Library, where they sing the alma mater. But the tradition has recently come under fire from its founders, who are angry that the event seems to have lost its shock value. When a Facebook event was created to advertise the streaking, some of the originals left a note at the streakers’ meeting place condemning campus-endorsed streaking as an affront to everything streaking is supposed to be. The debate has raised an important question about the essential nature of the sport: is it really streaking without the element of surprise?
At Reed College, streaking isn’t just a flippant display of youthful rebellion: it’s war. Each year during the school’s annual fair, a group of Reedies strips down and covers themselves in blue paint in homage to the Picts, a Celtic tribe who supposedly went into battle wearing nothing but blue paint. The Picters launch an attack on their mortal enemy, the Copters, a group of clothed students armed with squirt guns and orange paint. While the Copters pelt the Picters with orange paint, the Picters chase them down and attempt to give them wet, paint-filled hugs.
And two teams that died out . . .
The Nude Olympics, a beloved Tiger tradition for almost a quarter century, used to take place following the first snowfall of each year. Two torch-bearers led the charge of 350 naked students running circles around the courtyard, screaming and cartwheeling and whooping for joy. Though there wasn’t any actual competition, it was still quite a spectacle and regularly drew crowds of 700 or more. Administrators likened the event to Pamplona’s running of the bulls. But after a particularly rowdy ceremony that sent 7 students to the hospital, the Board of Trustees voted to nix the event in 1999.
Each semester on the last day of classes, UVM students gathered at midnight for a clothes-less extravaganza. Participants rode around a lit, barricaded loop guarded by campus police and student volunteers. While the event was known as the “Naked Bike Ride,” only some of the participants cycled. Others rode skateboards, ran, or pushed shopping carts. But this year, UVM’s president pulled the plug on the event for safety reasons. He also pointed out that the money spent on the event — about $17,000 per semester, which came directly from school funds — could probably be put to better use.