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5 weirdest naked college traditions
The strange nude ways of higher education
 
It's not a pretty sight. 
It's not a pretty sight.  Amanda Brown/Star Ledger/Corbis

Perhaps the one thing Brown University students like more than vegan cookies and John Krasinski is their naked time. The Ivy League university is hosting "Nudity in the Upspace," a week-long series of nude discussions, open mics, performances, and classes. And, of course, body painting.

However, Brown is hardly the first college to encourage students to rock their birthday suits. In fact, here’s a fun little fact about higher education: Colleges offer a lot of occasions to get naked in public. The ample opportunities to live a life free from the constraints of clothes may actually make all that debt totally worth it (or, you know, not).

Here are the top five weirdest naked college traditions. Click links to photos and videos at your own risk.

5. Hamilton College’s varsity streaking team
While some colleges use nudity as an excuse to party, the students of Hamilton’s varsity streaking team treat nakedness as a competition sport. Although recognized by neither the NCCA nor Hamilton College officials, the varsity streaking team, established in 2004, takes nudity very seriously, training and even cutting members who did not meet streaking standards. And they do "compete," traveling to other schools in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (no Johnny Manziels here) and streaking across their campuses. The team has had mixed success. A New York Times article reports that "Three team members were detained by the police at Wellesley," but at least formal charges are yet to be filed.

4. Rice University’s Baker 13
With Houston's high temperatures making anyone want to shed their clothes, Rice University’s Baker 13 might be the most commonsensical naked college tradition. Or, it would be if it didn’t involve covering your body entirely in shaving cream. The Baker 13 first appeared on campus in 1974. Since then, on the 13th and 31st of each month, students in Baker, one of Rice’s residential colleges, run across campus with nothing but their skin and a lot of shaving cream. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, sometimes people running naked lathered in shaving cream get hurt — and cause major property damage. Part of the Baker 13 tradition is leaving body prints on library windows, but in 2011, junior Duncan Eddy ended up with a "bloody rear end" and $15,0000 bill to Rice University for accidentally shattering one. You can watch the Baker 13 antics from a safe distance here.

3. Yale University’s naked parties
The New Haven university was not the first to host naked parties (that illustrious title appears to once again be a Brown innovation), but after Rachel Aviv’s New York Times article exposed the campus’ semi-secret nude social gatherings, theirs became the most famous. The Pundits, a semi-secret campus society group, organizes six to eight naked parties annually in "off-campus houses, neglected rooms in classroom buildings, and even small libraries on campus." In typical Ivy League fashion, they tend to be super awkward. Aviv wrote of them "A few students dance, with less body contact than normal, and the men seemed more self-conscious than the women."

2. Harvard University’s Primal Scream
For unclear reasons, frigid New England weather and copious studying produces a certain breed of pasty Ivy Leaguers that just wouldn't keep their clothes on if you paid them (please, someone at Goldman Sachs work the numbers on this). At the end of every fall and spring semester, the night before the start of finals produces a sea of naked humanity running around Harvard Yard in an event known as Primal Scream. Although it started just with students shouting out of their windows, by the 1990s, Primal Scream had gained a nudity component, as well as a lot of older male bystanders with cameras. Considering that the average January temperature in Boston falls somewhere between 39 and 18 degrees Fahrenheit, running naked comes with some serious frostbite risks. Luckily, as you can see from this video, hats and scarves are permitted.

1. Stanford’s nude virgin festivals, library snacks, and more nakedness than you can swing a stick at
The coeds in Palo Alto really love to get naked for any variety of reasons. The famous "Full Moon on the Quad," in which freshmen and seniors make out with as many of each other as possible at the stroke of midnight, is often clothing optional. It’s almost a rule for events thrown by any of the campus cooperatives to involve some nakedness. Synergy House hosts Beltane, an event where about half of attendees are naked while they throw beet juice at each other and "frolick in circles around three virgins." Another co-up, Columbae, has the tradition of going to one of Stanford’s libraries to hand out snacks to students while naked, of course. We’re assuming body paint is their version of North Face jackets.

 
Emily Shire is chief researcher for The Week magazine. She has written about pop culture, religion, and women and gender issues at publications including Slate, The Forward, and Jewcy.

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