Undie Runs Across America
By Melissa Shock
Unigo Campus Rep at Colorado State University
Colorado State University has just finished its first-ever Undie Run, joining schools across the nation in offering this celebratory end to classes. Although a great stress reliever, it does not come without consequences and naysayers. Alison Go, “The Paper Trail” reporter, says it has been coined “The Undie Run Epidemic,” with many colleges and universities starting their very own versions. Undie Runs are organized races where competition and speed are replaced with cheering and little clothing. These runs usually take place toward the end of a school year to celebrate the end of classes for colleges across the country.
The longest standing undie tradition is called “Tufts Naked Quad Run” in Boston’s Tufts University. This quad run started in 1975 by male students protesting coed dorms. In 1987, females joined when the final dorm turned coed. The run is now meant to relieve stress before finals begin and essentially celebrate the end of the school year. The event is planned entirely by the students, but monitored by public safety personnel. Many students can only be seen wearing hats and shoes; others wrap flags around their waists. The end of the run features doughnuts, hot chocolate and live music. There have, however, been concerns for the safety of the students. Many show up intoxicated. Their inebriated state combined with running around campus has caused many injuries in the past. Some professors have threatened to cancel the Quad Run because of the safety concerns and alcohol abuse. It order to combat the event being shut down, Tufts has put in barricades and police monitors to control dangerous portions of the run. Auditi Guha, a reporter for a local Tufts paper, writes that this year, there were four incidents reported to the fire department, but taht was “probably not bad for a Naked Run night,” Fire Chief Kevin Kelleher said.
UCLA in California has hosted an Undie Run since Spring 2002. UCLA students’ tradition is to run through their campus and the surrounding area on the Wednesday before Spring Break. Bruins journalist Zack Behrens says this year they boasted 5,000 student participants. "Not only is it a social experience but an expression of our happiness as a rigorous quarter comes to an end,” said one student runner. In order to control safety UCPD was on patrol for the event. “We want students to have fun, but it just needs to happen safely, without causing a disturbance for the neighborhood,” said Nancy Greenstein, director of police community.
Arizona State University hosted its first ever Undie Run this year. It was to celebrate the end of the classes for the semester. They did a run around campus, and students donated spare money and clothing to the needy of Tempe, AZ. The event aimed to create school spirit with a philanthropic twist. There were over 1,000 ASU students that participated. Phoenix New Times writer Aja Viafora says at the end of the run, the event was finished off with live music, food and drinking. Concerning safety the event sponsor, Rubin Green, said “I was a little disappointed that a fight broke out...other than that, great event.” Student Michael Struening said “[the event] turned out to be a lot better than expected.”
Four other schools joined the likes of Tufts, UCLA and ASU. Drexel University, University of Pennsylvania, Boston University and Colorado State University all started their very own Undie Run traditions this year.
Andy Dose, a reporter for The Rocky Mountain Collegian, writes that May 9, 2008 marked CSU’s first ever Undie Run. It was organized by Josh Heuerman, a freshman open option major. He used Facebook to promote the event, and had over 1,000 students confirmed to come. Josh said "(Students) study so much, and there's so much stress at college—they need a break, they need something to lighten the mood.” Around 11:50pm on Friday night, many people began showing up in front of the Lory Student Center. Within a few minutes there were over 400 men and women in only their skivvies. The intense energy of the crowd was obvious; many people anxious and nervous at first, then cheers of “I’m proud to be a CSU Ram!” could be heard across campus. As the run was about to kick off, clothes started piling up, being thrown from random directions. The Undie Run’s sole purpose was not only to give students an excuse to run around in their drawers and blow off finals steam, but it was also for charity. Students were encouraged to bring clothing they wanted to donate to GoodWill.
Josh said the turnout for the run was a lot better than he anticipated. Before he began planning the event, Josh attempted to get the university’s support but was never given a response. Since it was the first year, and a small event, there were no police patrolling the event like other schools. When asked if he was worried about injuries, Josh said, “Yes, I was worried about people getting hurt, but it was a time of fun and everyone seemed to have each other’s backs.” Josh hopes the Undie Run can become a more permanent tradition on Colorado State’s campus, hopefully supported by the university; this way it will become more structured, hopefully increasing attendance and safety personnel. Josh’s main goal was to bring CSU students together, and he definitely accomplished that. Josh concluded, "I wanted to bring CSU together, and look what happens."