Students streak for finals week

It’s spring! Tis the season of all of the things we love: sundresses, darties, mailing-it-in academically, tanning, general amusement and insanity. One such amusing insanity is the traditional streaking of the libraries that occurs during every finals period. It is this esteemed tradition of the College that I set out to explore before hordes of nude students descend, in their birthday suit glory, upon our mid-finals study sessions.

After doing some research I found, much to my surprise, that there is some sort of official College streakers’ listserv, on which the times and places of streakings are coordinated. I would have never expected such a clandestine, technically frowned upon student organization to communicate on an open listserv with impunity. Campus Safety and Security (Security) seems determined to try catching the streakers, so I had assumed that a listserv would be an unsecure way to communicate.

Streaking on our campus in particular can be considered every campus Security officer’s worst nightmare. Security seems to feel obligated to chase the streakers,yet it is unclear what the proper course of action would be if they ever caught a streaker on the loose: Tackling seems an undesirable end, while letting one go seems just downright negligent. It’s a catch-22 if I have ever seen one. Further emphasizing the unfortunate circumstances of our Security team during finals week is our proximity to Williamstown Elementary School; What federal penalties await those libertine enough to strip in a school zone? I’ve always been more of a scientist than a lawyer, so the potential legal implications escape me, but for now I’ll take a chance and assume that only bad things await streakers on the legal side.

My experience streaking is limited. The last time I went streaking was at Bates College. This was with a small squad of other Williams students and involved running around a great many public places, getting lost, being chased by Bates’ security (which I like to imagine brought, in the very least, a gratuitous dose of entertainment to their evening) and eventually ending up naked in the woods while an old lady shot a paintball gun at us. So, I decided if anyone would know about streaking it would be one of the boys from thatBates’ streakers squad.

That knowledgeable squad member was my friend, “Hank the Tank,” who claimed that he is “totally the co-president of the streaking team, ranked fourth in New England.” “Hank” also filled me in on the streaker code, by which he abides diligently: Only streak events worth streaking. Only streak sober. No streaking kids.

I have only streaked once before at College, as a first-year. I got word to meet down the hall to the left of the Schow library entrance. What I found there was a super awkward room of people consciously avoiding looking at anyone else while silently undressing. They were all attempting to undress in the jerky, uncoordinated way that screams “I’m super nervous right now.” So I hopped in, nervously undressing and trying my best to maintain visual contact with the ceiling. The naked crowd coalesced unhurriedly until everyone stood silently ready to run. Then from the front of the crowd I heard a scream, no words, just a shrill exclamation point, and suddenly we were all off running and screaming into the library.

It was awesome, not terrifying at all. The adrenaline rush was fantastic, as was the feeling of the wind blowing against my naked body. It felt like being a part of some sort of primal pack, running in the wilderness. Except it was Schow, not the wilderness. What I should have been worried about was my inexperience as a pack hunter. I was happily running, riding my adrenaline high, when I realized that I had lost the streaker pack. You see, it’s fun to streak the library in a group, but it is not fun to streak the library alone. It is even less fun when you run out of a row of books and find yourself stopped, alone, in front of a recent ex. I have literally never run so fast in my entire life.

I can happily report that my clothes were still where I left them, and, once my heart rate came back down, I could laugh at how ridiculous and fun the whole experience was. I encourage all students to try it before they graduate – just stick with your pack. Fortunately I did not see a Security officer on that run, so the age-old question of whether or not they would actually tackle a streaker remains an impenetrable mystery.

Ultimately, it is at moments like these when I appreciate our close, small College community. There is really nothing like being trampled by naked people, especially when you are made to remember they are fellow students on a campus of only 2000. Perhaps the potential reason the College streaking culture and frequency pale in comparison to other institutions is that the almost assured chances you will see streakers of nights past the following morning – this time clothed and in front of you in lecture – can be a chilling robbery of the very transient freedom that makes streaking fun.