Tag Archives: Streaking

Finals Week Nude Run

Background:  DL is a man in his early twenties who attend the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. It is a small school with less than 3,000 students (mostly undergrad). DL is getting degrees in violin performance and gender studies.

Context: “Dead week” is the typically week before finals, where classes are canceled so students can study. It’s usually a time of high tension across a campus, and DL believes the nude run is a way to “destress.” He does not have a clear idea of how the tradition got started or how long it’s been going on. He mostly finds it amusing, but was slightly embarrassed to elaborate on what happens during the annual nude run when I asked him for more information.

Main Piece:

(In the following interview the informant is identified as DL and the interviewer is identified as JS.)

DL: We have a tradition during dead week in the fall semester…it’s a naked run [laughs]. And it starts, starts at the library, at the top floor of the library, where people completely nude in a big pack run from the top floor of the library all the way across campus to, like, the dining hall and go through the dining hall. And it’s probably thirty degrees outside [Fahrenheit] because it’s winter.

JS: What time of day does this take place?

DL: Maybe like 10 or 11 P.M.

JS: And the library’s still open at this point? People take their clothes off there?

DL: Yeah, you go in a robe or something—and like, not everybody goes completely nude but a lot of people do, so it’s not really that…weird?

JS: Have you done it before?

DL: I haven’t, no.

JS: Okay, okay. So you—have you watched people do it, though? Like, you sat out? Do people sit out in lawn chairs and watch it—

DL: No? No. Cuz that would be…

JS: Creepy

DL: Yeah, I feel like everyone has specific etiquette rules. People don’t like sit and watch, but like, if you happen to witness it, then that’s acceptable.

JS: And you’ve “witnessed” it before?

DS: I’ve witnessed it.

JS: Do you have friends that have done it?

DL: Yes, no one I live with has done it, but I have friends that have done it.

JS: And how does the administration feel about it?

DL: They don’t care.

JS: Does a specific person organize it or does a mass text get sent out?

DL: Like, a mass text gets sent out, so everybody knows when it is and on what day, because it’s the same every year.

Thoughts: I’ve heard of similar traditions at other campuses across the country, and I think the nude run practice falls in line with the similar traditions of skinny dipping or walking into public fountains fully clothed. I’d agree with DL’s idea that this a way for students to destress—it’s something that’s so wild and impulsive that it puts the concept of final exams into perspective. There are multiple elements of risk in it, including both the very cold weather and the willingness for people to go nude in public (a technically illegal act). I find it particularly interesting how the administration doesn’t seem to mind that it occurs on a predictable, annual basis, and that certain social codes about how not to be creepy have regulated themselves. People don’t sit around and wait for the nude runners to go by, they just witness it by coincidence—the fact that it’s a big pack of students also makes it somewhat safer to perform. It’s definitely not the kind of thing I myself would participate in, but it’s a pretty hilarious concept all the same.

High School Senior Streaking Prank

IG: Ha, every year in high school in the spring the seniors would go to someone’s house who lived next to the high school and take off all their clothes and then we would run through the high school campus and it was really funny because everybody would leave class to watch us and then everybody would get their grade docked because all the teacher were hella against it and then every year the principal would stand there with just his like arms crossed but also like shading his eyes because it was so weird to look at your students naked but it was so funny because we would wear masks, obviously, so it would be kind of anonymous but then one year (laughs) my best friend fell (laughs) and she was bleeding and then somebody- like her mask like sorta fell off and then somebody in the crowd ripped it off so she had to (laughs) she had to run naked and bleeding and her face was out through like- we have a huge campus because it was a really big public school and it was really funny and then once we got to the end of the route of the run the gates were all locked so we all had to climb over a fence which was so painful because your bare legs are out and everything, but it was so fun and it happens every year so you just have to do it even if you don’t really want to-

VG: Oh my god!

IG: Yeah

VG: Where- Where- Where did you go to high school?

IG: ****** High School.

VG: Is that in ****, ****?

IG: Yeah, it has like 4,000 students.

A: Yeah, sorry, that sounds a lot like ****.

IG: Yeah, totally.

VG: That’s so funny though.

IG: It was rite of passage for sure.

VG: Yeah.

IG: Yeah, but also like so inappropriate. We wer-We were on the streets of Berkeley naked cause we had to get from the house to the school.

VG: So, it’s illegal.

(A laughs)

IG: Yeah, exactly. I know! And people were drinking and…I mean you had to get up some nerve- probably a lot of people, so…it was like extra illegal and then you would have friends who would be the getaway cars, waiting for you, which was so hard to ma- like manage because not everyone can fit. And then one year, it was so chaotic that somebody- my neighbor like crashed into another car- not like badly, but he just like skimmed the side, and everybody’s already trying to get you in trouble that day, so then just to do that next to the school was so bad- but then it was ok because the school was pretty lenient because everybody got in trouble all the time…so yeah. It was great.



Location of story – Northern California  

Location of Performance – Classroom, Los Angeles, CA, late morning


Context: This performance was done in a group of 3-4 people after a class in response to a question about potential high school traditions, festivals, jokes, or riddles. IG was unsure at first and then was enthusiastic about sharing once she remembered this story. Hers followed one joke made. IG and I are classmates. I censored the high school name for privacy reasons. 


Analysis: There are many obvious and severe breeches of normal social decorum as well as the law in the continuation of this tradition. The fact that it still exists demonstrates how integral this performance is to the school and surrounding community’s identity; if they did not see that it was worth the benefits, they would most likely be able to stop with with increased police force or harsher punishments. I think this performance is particularly interesting because it demonstrates that just because some rituals and traditions may be illegal, they are often so engrained into the identity of the community that it is difficult to stop the practice and nearly impossible to remove the memories from the community’s mind if it continues. I myself have participated in senior pranks, but this was still shocking to me. Additionally, I thought it was funny that other student knew the exact location of where this prank took place. Evidently, this prank was not just fitting to the identity of the high school community but to the identity of the town as well. In fact, the other student was not even from the town and was able to identity its attitude and myth. 


Streaking the Lawn at UVA


This piece is about a tradition at UVA (University of Virginia) about streaking the lawn at the Rotunda, a very specific building on the campus.

Main Piece:

“L: So I don’t know if this is a custom or tradition or just a rite of passage, but UVA students do this thing where they streak the lawn of the Rotunda which is part of Thomas Jefferson’s setup. And so how you do it, it’s actually really long. You have to take off your clothes on the steps of the Rotunda and then run all the way down to the other building where there is a statue of Thomas Jefferson. And you have to spin around 3 times and then say something and then you run back. And you’re completely naked. So I did it this winter, and you do it at night so you don’t get caught. But I feel like so many people do it now that you can’t get in trouble for it. Like what? You’re going to arrest one kid who got caught doing it when thousands of people have been doing it.

C: Is there something that prompts it? Or do you just have to do it if you’re a student there?

L: I think it, like if you’re in clubs or something then maybe one of the activities or initiation or something might be to go streak the lawn with your club or something. Because my friend who goes to UVA did it for the first time last semester and she’s like “oh yeah I’ve been doing it every week.” It is like a really long run, I didn’t even make the full run because I got so tired.”


The informant is a 19 year old from Charlottesville, VA who has lived near the UVA campus her whole life and has many friends who attend the school. She personally learned this and participated in the tradition over winter break in 2018.


I think these kinds of traditions at universities are a way to bond a community or feel a deeper connection in clubs, like in initiations. This tradition of streaking reminds me of fountain hopping at USC. Fountain hopping happens on people’s birthdays or at graduation. Streaking seems more vulnerable than jumping into a fountain fully clothed, but both seem to be ways students rebel against administration and have some fun.

Streaking through School Assembly


Unofficial tradition/Practical Joke


My informant described a unofficial tradition in a school when talking about pranks. The following is a transcript of our interview:

“During the assembly before Christmas – the SAC  (student activities committee, which is basically an amateur SNL) Christmas assembly, there is always a streaker. We do the assembly, unlike the others, in the main common area for the school because it’s a big area, and the area we use for a stage is where the Senior couches are, and there is basically a huge window out to the backside of the school where there is a field. So people while we do the assembly, people  — because this is always in the dead of winter and there is snow on the ground – so people go streaking and wear masks of some variety, doing something funny. People don’t always get totally naked. No one last year got naked, but when you’re in a speedo in freezing weather its really cold and still funny.


To my informant, “it’s a tradition, and every year the administration says NO ONE CAN STREAK THIS YEAR, but every year people do it. It is a demonstration of student power versus the administration.”


Not only are students demonstrating their own power by disregarding the administrations threats, they also interrupt a mandatory event planned by the school. Thus, the students are demonstrating that they are also not under the control of the administration by ignoring the “mandatory” nature of the gathering, and they insult the administration by making a mockery of their gathering. Moreover, the streakers break school rules by disregarding the dresscode. The masks students wear protect them from getting into trouble, but also provide an extra element of comedy to the scene. Though breaking school rules is a key component to the tradition, the other part is comedy: the daring acts of defiance are also aimed to entertain fellow students.