Lake Forest bares its acorns

The original artwork that appeared with this article in the Dec. 6, 2007 Stentor.

Lake Forest College is devoid of traditions. Succeeding generations of Foresters have nothing to pass down to each other. Returning alums can’t ask current seniors, “So is this tradition still holding strong?” The reasons for this deficiency are long and would be better off filling up the pages of a senior thesis.

Instead, as the College is ending its Sesquicentennial celebration, I thought it would be appropriate to take a closer look at one tradition that has a proud established tradition at other colleges. One that reached its peak in the 1970s and is still expected on college campuses but rarely delivered. A tradition that dares students to bare their all in defiance of society’s norms. The phenomenon of streaking.

What has embedded streaking into the American notion of college life? No doubt it’s the outward expression of some type of angst built up again the bureaucracy of society. Or it could just be one of the last bastions of expressing one’s inner child before being shackled by the social norms of “real life.” This activity takes place in an extremely close knit community of peers and transmits a light-hearted message to outsiders (namely, officials and prospective students) that “we’re comfortable enough to do this here.”

Streaking has a long established history at many institutions of higher learning, harkening back almost thirty years.

Harvard University encourages “Primal Scream” the night before finals. Students bare it all and take two laps around Harvard Yard. Hats and capes are allowed, however. Even though the campus nudist phenomenon has somewhat declined in years of late, Lewis & Clark College and the University of Michigan still harbor Naked Mile traditions.

Hamilton College has a Varsity Streaking Team. The friendly rivalry surrounding the team is so strong that it successfully streaked twelve private colleges in New England. The team was handed its first defeat in 2005 when the Williams College Springstreakers successfully completed a full lap around the Hamilton library on the night before final exams.

Now, “streaking” is an ineloquent term with a somewhat disorganized connotation. At Lake Forest, a group of us is trying to establish a hopefully long-lived tradition known as the Nude Olympics (borrowed from Princeton).

What are the criteria for this new athletic competition? Well, you’ve been fortunate enough to have me enumerate them here: 1) It must commence near midnight on the first snowfall of the academic year, 2) participants must complete a footrace of minimum the distance between Young and Blackstone Halls, 3) racers are allowed to be clad in only shoes and socks (on one’s feet).

Recently, a few of us have laid a solid foundation for the Nude Olympics, and we now call for all future Olympians to join in and continue this tradition so Lake Forest College has one to call its own. The beginnings now exist of a rite that is passed down from class to class and causes a twinkle to sparkle in the eyes of racers when the first snowfall of the year begins to accumulate. Maybe if it takes off, we’ll even be able to challenge the Springstreakers.

The motions for a spring event are already in the works. Everyone in the community is invited to attend the LAKE BUFF MARATHON. We’ll see you there, in the flesh.

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