Tag Archives: UC davis

UC Davis “Undie Run”

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 24
Occupation: Actuary
Residence: San Diego, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/27/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Background: The informant is an American UC Davis 2018 alumni who currently works as an actuary in San Diego, CA. He learned the tradition while attending university in Davis, CA, but never partook in it himself. 

Context: The following piece was collected in a brief, casual over-the-phone interview.

Piece: 

Informant: “So around finals, usually like the Wednesday of finals week every semester there was an ‘undie run.’ So everyone uh, if you were going to donate your clothes would just strip off whatever clothes you were going to donate, leave them there, and then just run around the campus in your underwear.” 

Collector: “Wait so there’s like a clothing drive?”

Informant: “Uh, there was at some portions er like at some of them like as I was going there it seemed like it was becoming less and less popular.”

Collector: “But people still took off their clothes and ran around in their underwear?”

Informant: “Yeah in like a big group, a big mob. They’d run through all the dorms, all the like cafeterias so you’d be like out getting cookies and there’d be a bunch of people just acting like drunk idiots.”

Collector: “Would they be drunk?”

Informant: “I’m sure some people were drunk but not most of them.”

Collector: “Was it during the day or at night?”

Informant “Mostly at night. Anyone who wants to go can it’s like a Facebook event.” 

Analysis: I have heard of a similar tradition at USC in which seniors run across campus half-naked and swim in each of the fountains before graduation. This tradition differs in that it is open to all UC Davis students and occurs more than once in an academic year. Finals week is a transitory period in which the results from a semester’s worth of classes is still largely undetermined. It is usually a very stressful time for students, so the undie run provides a brief liberation from traditional social expectations. It’s important that it happens in a group so that the act becomes more publicly acceptable. If it were just one individual, it is possible that they would get arrested for public nudity, whereas a larger group performance assures the unlikelihood that law enforcement would be able to punish every individual. It would be interesting to examine more colleges across the country to see how many have an underwear run tradition.

UC Davis Haunted Lecture Hall

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 24
Occupation: Actuary
Residence: San Diego, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/27/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Background: The informant is an American UC Davis 2018 alumni who currently works as an actuary in San Diego, CA. He learned the tradition while attending university in Davis, CA, but never partook in it himself. 

Context: The following piece was collected in a brief, casual over-the-phone interview.

Piece: 

Collector: “Were there any haunted places on the UC Davis campus?”

Informant: “Yeah there was a lecture hall…People would say that it was haunted because um it was like a building made in the 1960s with a whole bunch of like narrow corridors and rooms that were really like close together. Um so pretty much like a nightmare. You would be pressed up against forty people trying to get into your classroom. 

Collector: “Why did people think it was haunted?”

Informant: “Um I think like the lights would flicker on and off. They weren’t super good. And then like the rooms on the bottom floor got really cold really fast. But like there were no rumors of people like haunting it at night just because it was such a used lecture hall building that there were always people walking around it.” 

Informant: “Do you remember the name of the lecture hall?”

Collector: “Yeah I do. I think it was called like Wellman.” 

Analysis: College campuses are often the setting of ghost stories and hauntings as they are liminal spaces in which students are often transitioning from adolescence to adulthood and are forming their own belief systems. I was surprised at how little explanation and description were offered surrounding why the building was haunted, although it is important to note that while the informant was familiar with the legend, he does not believe in ghosts nor any other supernatural entity. According to the perspective he offered, the haunting appears to not have been an intensive or detailed legend, but was merely a way to make a mundane space interesting. Coldness/chills are often associated with haunted places and was used as a sort of proof of hauntedness in this class. This association may be related to how the human body temperature lowers following death or could be associated with the sense of shock that cold temperatures procure. Ultimately, this legend doesn’t appear to have much stake in actually convincing people that the hall is haunted, but rather serves as a way to color the everyday and generate excitement.