Columbae residents hoping to participate in the co-op’s long tradition of handing out snacks while naked in Green Library the night before finals week were prevented from doing so on Sunday evening by University police and librarians.
According to Bill Larson, spokesperson for the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS), officers were dispatched to Green because of a report of possible streaking. Upon entering the library, the Columbae residents were asked to leave — before making their rounds — by a librarian.
“It’s definitely part of house culture,” emphasized Francisca Gilmore ’13, Columbae’s community manager. “It’s just a way of bringing joy and humor into a time that can be particularly stressful for students on campus.”
In previous quarters, naked Columbae residents have been asked to leave Green – or have been escorted out by librarians – after dispensing their gifts. Gilmore expressed surprise, however, at the police presence.
“I don’t think the University will ever explicitly condone what we do, but we were disappointed that there was that level of reaction for something that we think is a positive contribution to making Stanford a little more diverse, crazy and exciting,” Gilmore said.
In the past, the University has taken a relatively liberal approach to instances of nudity on campus. Columbae and fellow co-ops Synergy and Chi Theta Chi are known for their openness to baring skin, to the extent of hosting various clothing-optional events.
“As a general rule, police officers are taught that nudity in and of itself is not a crime,” wrote Chief of Police Laura Wilson ’91 in an October statement to The Daily.
Gilmore acknowledged that some students may not welcome the Columbae tradition and said that the co-op’s residents attempt to avoid creating disquiet.
“We understand that some people are not comfortable with it — I think we all understand that,” Gilmore said. “We try to minimize discomfort by walking quickly, walking quietly.”