Students strip for tradition

Stanford has more than a few odd traditions, from rallying the freshmen with Band Run and making out with the Tree once a year to jumping around campus fountains and screaming out windows when finals come around. But only one tradition runs through almost all the others– nudity.

(Stanford Daily File Photo)

And while co-ops organize clothing-optional events most frequently, not all proud birthday-suit-wearers belong to the co-op community.

Co-ops Synergy, Columbae and Chi Theta Chi are famous for their residents’ proclivity for baring skin, but some all-campus parties, like 680 Lomita’s Exotic Erotic and Kappa Sigma’s now-defunct Foam Party, also encourage at least partial nudity.

Stanford Sierra Camp is another non-co-op group that is known for its comfort with nudity. However, most of the nudity from Sierra Camp occurs far from campus, at camp in Fallen Leaf, Calif.

“To be able to show who you are completely… and not hiding any part of you, is a really liberating feeling,” said Mia Divecha ’13 who has previously worked at Stanford Sierra Camp.

For the modest strippers, body paint covers up what clothing doesn’t.

“Especially at Full Moon [on the Quad] where there are more freshmen, [body paint] makes the nakedness sillier and less intimidating,” said Elizabeth Matus ’14, a Synergy resident. “We’re not trying to make anybody feel bad about being naked; we’re just trying to lighten the mood.”

“It’s cool to use your body as a canvas for art,” said Francisca Gilmore ’13, Columbae community manager.

The Honor Code and Fundamental Standard are silent about nudity and though it is illegal for someone to “willfully and lewdly” expose themselves in public according to the California Penal Code, the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) interprets the law on indecent exposure liberally.

“The important aspect of this law is the introduction, which indicates the behavior must be willful and lewd… As a general rule, police officers are taught that nudity in and of itself is not a crime,” Police Chief Laura Wilson said in a statement to The Daily.

Students who choose to shed their clothing on campus claim lewdness is not the goal, but rather acceptance and trust.

“It’s not about being naked, it’s about being comfortable and having fun,” Gilmore said.

“It really helps when you get a bunch of people of… different shapes and colors to… make people realize that if this person can run around naked and is comfortable… then maybe I could too,” Matus said.

In 2007, a group of students even used nudity as a form of protest against clothing made in sweatshops bearing the Stanford University logo.

Communities such as co-ops and Sierra Camp that engage in group nudity believe the community’s closeness creates a trusting atmosphere that allows students to feel comfortable clothes-free.

“I think when that when that care is there, there is a comfort level that people have with each other, and I think there is less fear of judgment,” Divecha said.

However, people from Synergy, Columbae and Stanford Sierra Camp all emphasized that part of the trust and comfort in their community included being comfortable enough to say, “Enough nudity.”

“We encourage people to find their own comfort level in the house,” Gilmore said.

Gaieties and Full Moon on the Quad have passed, though students still have several reliable chances to see their classmates in the nude, notably the libraries during Dead Week and Spring Quarter Band Run.

“I get naked to feel body-positive,” said Synergy resident Elias Rodriques ’13. “Once you’re out there it’s like, ‘Well, it’s not that big of a deal. This is my body.’”

  • curmudgeon

    On body paint–

    No problem with nudity, no problem with body paint in theory. What I do have a problem with is when a battalion of body-painted co-oppers charge through my house’s living spaces and (this is the important part) rub themselves up against every and all surface/piece of furniture.

    Your statement of individuality etc is great until I have to spend the next morning scrubbing it off the walls.

  • Constance

    I haven’t been overly impressed with clothing-optional rallies. I respect wanting to express yourself as you see fit, but even nudists, who are supposed to be the most accepting of all body types, have grilled me for not shaving my legs. This is without ever even having gone nude for any event. I made this decision simply because I was sick of going through (and paying for) a ritual that has no bearing on my health. Impress me, ladies: give up shaving for a year without altering your wardrobe, then we’ll talk about being comfortable with what you have.

  • http://www.facebook.com/felicitynaturist Felicity Jones

    I believe the nudist / naturist movement is about acceptance, and this is what my organization, Young Naturists America, is based on. But, unfortunately, not all nudists (or people who get socially naked) think that way. I wouldn’t give up on social nudity entirely! Just get away from the people who would judge you for such a trivial thing! :) It doesn’t matter whether people conform or don’t conform to the trending styles of appearance like shaving or not shaving. They should do whatever makes them feel good and comfortable (given that it’s not dangerous behavior of course). We accept people just as they are, and this is the philosophy we’re trying to promote. http://nudistnaturistamerica.org

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