If you were studying late in Schow or Sawyer or maybe taking a study break in Paresky to reenergize during finals a few weeks ago, you probably found it hard not to notice a long line of nude bodies running across campus. The Springstreakers, first formed six years ago, have established themselves as an organization on campus dedicated to distracting and amusing fellow students. This year, like all others before, they streaked both libraries and Paresky. The group met in Schow atrium where members “milled around nervously [or] excitedly for a bit,” said Andy Schneider ’12, a new member of the Springstreakers. After a signal from one of the leaders, everyone “shuffled down into the space just east of the Schow library entrance, [where], without any instructions, everyone disrobed. After that, with everyone either proudly or embarrassedly naked, [they] went through the logistics of the route, what to chant, etc.”
This streak, like other events carried out by the Springstreakers, was organized and coordinated through a Springstreakers listserve led by Heath Pruitt ’11. Pruitt is accompanied by a staff of officers who lend advice and help recruit new, daring individuals to join their ranks. The Springstreakers are loosely separated into three “strata,” according to a member who elected to go by his pseudonym of “Lumber Thighs” or “Lumby”: “the pros – the dependable streakers who are more than likely to show up rain or shine, the rising stars – those who may show up for the bigger streaks [and are] unlikely to show up to the smaller affairs, and the amateurs – those who will almost surely never streak but nonetheless are on the mailing list and support our actions.”
Regardless of rank, all those involved in the Springstreakers share a common opinion as to the overall purpose of streaking, particularly here at the College. The general consensus is that streaking is an amusing and intriguing distraction. Streaking “provides an opportunity for both the streaker and the ‘streak-ee’ to forget about [work] for a moment and admire the perfection of the human form in its natural state,” Brandon Abasolo ’13 said. Mariah Clegg ’12 said that “the true objective – mission statement, if you will – of the Springstreakers is to loosen people up. Tell me it doesn’t brighten your day and put a spring in your step when you see 50 naked college students running by most un-sexily … And tell me it doesn’t provoke questions like, ‘Now, what’s wrong with that? Why is that illegal in most states? Why can’t everyone just chill out about their bodies?’” These two student-generated explanations adhere closely to the Willipedia definition of the group, which states that “the focus [of the Springstreakers] has always been on capitalizing on a maximum of focused attention to create shock value.”
What also produced a lot of shock value was the unprecedented female majority in December’s finals period streak. Contrary to previous years, where the girl-to-guy ratio varied from a one to eight ratio in its early years to one to three ratio in more recent years, this year’s numbers suggest a changing trend in the Springstreakers dynamic. One possible explanation for the shift, offered by Abasolo, is that “the number of female streakers may not have exactly increased, but the number of male streakers decreased. There were definitely some people who have streaked in the past and did not participate this year.” Abasolo was happy with the change of events that makes the Springstreakers more the coed group it was intended to be and less of “a congregation of perverted male runners and company.” Olivia Delia ’12 said that it was about “safety in numbers … The more girls who streak, the more who will feel okay about streaking.” Clegg, who was abroad during the reading period streak, was very proud to hear about the strong showing of female streakers. She said that the larger contingency of female streakers was likely a result of the change in the opinion about streaking. “It is a safe, fun, thrilling thing, rather than a scary, dangerous, dirty thing … It’s evidence that more women are starting to understand that naked bodies are natural, beautiful and not inherently sexual.”
Whether streaking is just an amusing activity or a more profound act of liberation, and whether the larger female showing was the result of better recruitment or women’s increasing comfort with their bodies, we can be sure of one thing: Expect many more naked runs in the future.