A colleague of mine recently gave a talk at my undergraduate college. While we caught up over a cup of coffee, he asked about my experiences there, as he’s interested in sending his daughter to a college or university like that. As I told him stories about the safety and liberty I felt there–and have felt nowhere else before Freshman convocation or since graduation–it occured to me that a surprising number of my fondest memories involved semi-public nudity. Most of the naked memories were streaking up and down Senior Row or skinny-dipping in a fountain after dark when few people were around to witness us, and it was always a group endeavor–sometimes all-women, sometimes a coed group.
Is it just me, or do some of you have similar stories and memories? What do you think is behind the compulsion of students to experience a college campus in Eve’s Livery?
My memories of the liberty I felt to walk around naked or nearly nude really underscores just how safe and how much a part of that world I felt at the time. What a privilege, especially for adult women, to be publicly naked on our terms & not have our bodies or our images used in someone else’s spectacle! It was certainly also an exercise of class privilege, too–somehow, SLACy campuses grant dispensation from the usual sanctions against public nudity, at least if you’re still a student. (Faculty nudity? Eeewww: criminal charges territory, for sure.) At least, I sure wouldn’t have felt safe walking around naked at a big public university or even a large, co-ed university.
Although, I must confess: at my fifteenth reunion I engaged in some very cold skinny dipping, and at my twentieth, some children in our party jumped in a fountain, and when scolded not to get their clothing wet, they stripped and went about their swim. (I was touched by how natural and sensible their response was.) Why?