The thought of running across the Arts Quad naked did not occur to me until mid-November last semester. It was about forty degrees, uncanny weather for Ithaca, and subzero temperatures seemed imminent for the “spring” semester. So I figured, “Fuck it, tonight will be My Night to streak across the Arts Quad.” Plus, it was going to freeze that weekend.
The appeal is obvious – bragging rights. What could be more badass then taking off all of your clothes and running around campus? (Except, perhaps, taking off your clothes and having sex around campus, specifically in the stacks. Stay tuned.) The task seemed simple, but the logistics, technical and social, still needed to be ironed out. Do you run across the quad from Rand to Morrill? Or perhaps Tjaden to Goldwin Smith? How do you avoid being seen by the first floor of Olin? Do you care? What if your clothes get stolen? How do you handle seeing your friends naked? Underwear optional, or is that not really streaking? If your friends don’t want to get completely naked, do you do so anyway? Does that make you weird? How do they handle seeing you completely naked? How do people feel about nudity? What if you get caught?
“It’s okay,” I thought to myself, “these are game-time decisions. In the meantime, I need to find myself a partner in crime.”
I pitched the after-hours activity to my buddies while we were playing our favorite game, “Drink the Beer” (Rules: Drink your beer. Winner gets another one. You’d be surprised at how hard this is for some people). I thought they would be down, but I was met with a litany of excuses: “I already did it,” “I haven’t shaved in a while,” “That’s inappropriate – you can’t be naked on the Arts Quad.”
I decided not to worry about it for the time-being. It was still My Night and I knew that our next stop for the night would open up an extra dimension of deviants - we were goin’ to *Pixel*.
After sweating and elbowing people to hold onto Dear Life, I was feeling pretty sober by the time I ran into my buddy Justin amidst the sausage scramble. You know, those fifteen minutes after the bars close when all the drunken stragglers try to figure out their next move. “Wanna go streaking across the Arts Quad?” He was down, and insisted that we also KEEP RAGING.
We get to the Arts Quad. Nobody was in the library. Schmexcellent. We find a spot in the Morrill construction to stash our clothes. After all my talk of getting naked, I begin to feel a little bashful. After all, it was just the two of us… but then, I turned to my right and experienced temporary blindness due to the sight of Justin’s bare ass. It was okay. I accepted it.
From Morrill, it seemed pretty reasonable to run straight towards Goldwin Smith and do a loop around the A. D. White statue. We took off. I didn’t wear shoes. I tried to run on the grass, but there were mad amounts of sticks and little rocks that still hurt my feet. We didn’t even get halfway across before I started getting a cramp. I saw Justin running toward the Blue Light phone and as I made my way around the statue I heard him order a “LARGE PIZZA – EXTRA SAUSAGE.”
Right about here is where I realized, “This is happening right now. I am completely bare-ass naked. There are no trees, buildings, or construction sites to hide behind – just the expanse of the quad, which looks so different at night. Wow, this is kind of inappropriate. But also awesome. I’m running towards Goldwin Smith – and I’m naked! ::feelings of liberation:: haha, okay I feel pretty vulnerable, is this over yet?”
So was it worth it? Definitely. Now I can say that I have streaked across the Arts Quad. At this point, I’m not sure why anybody would not want to do it. I would encourage anybody considering it to take advantage of this mild winter, overcome social norms about nudity and shed some clothing and some modesty.
Melinda Lim is a senior in the College of Engineering. She can be reached at email@example.com. Big Red Ambition appears on Wednesdays.