There are many traditions at the University of Virginia. They range in longevity from the older hallmarks of the institution, like Final Exercises, that have existed since the school’s inception and the newer rights of passage, like attending Lighting of the Lawn, that have emerged in the last decade or so. One tradition stands in stark contrast to others, is infamous in nature, and (most importantly in my book) keeps the spirit of Old School alive: Streaking.
Streaking is more than just taking your clothes off and running up and down the Lawn. That’s what streaking is. But what streaking means – that gets personal. For some people, it’s freedom. A momentary release from their stress and their weight of their everyday lives. For others, it’s a hobby. Something to be done because it’s Tuesday or because you’re done with that microeconomics discussion or because you feel intervals are more enjoyable with a breeze.
There are a couple of things you should remember while streaking. First of all, you do not need to be drunk in order to do it. In fact, given the hilly terrain and the odds of people possibly pranking you while you streak, it might even be better to be sober. Second, be smart about where you put your clothes, but do not be lame. The streaking starts on the Rotunda steps and requires you to wish Mr. Jefferson a good evening/morning at the end of your run. Don’t short change the most crucial step by getting undressed and leaving your clothes by a tree one third of the way down the lawn. And related, don’t move other people’s clothes. It’s mean, and we probably don’t want to watch them walking around bare-assed. Do onto others, etc.
Third, keep in mind what time of year it is. If it is cold, your body will react accordingly. If it is homecoming weekend, you better bet there will be a huge crowd on the steps and alumni and current students drinking all over the lawn. Also keep in mind the time of day – there is a significant different between streaking at twelve noon and twelve midnight.
Most importantly, enjoy the moment. Be free. If it’s your first time or your hundredth, you get to run naked down a UNESCO World Heritage site in the shadow of Mr. Jefferson’s Rotunda. Soak it all in. Try not to trip. And as Dean Groves tell us, there is simply one difference between streaking and public indecency: pace.