Colorado State University administrators don’t really want students to run around campus in their underwear this year, and they’ve enlisted students’ parents to help plead their case.
In an email to the parents of Colorado State University students, administrators urged students not to run around campus in their underwear as part of an annual ritual.
Each year, CSU students participate in what is called the “Undie Run,” where students streak through campus in their undergarments. Yet the school is urging parents to “have a conversation with your student(s)” to convince them not to participate in the May 10 event.
“While this may sound like a harmless, fun tradition that allows students to blow off steam, we have significant and real concerns about it,” wrote Blanche Hughes, vice president for student affairs, and Jody Donovan, dean of students.
Among the safety concerns listed by the university are people showing up and taking photos and videos “for their personal use,” heavy drug and alcohol use, and the fact that students remain in their underwear at parties after the event, which sets a “tone that breeds harmful situations for our students.”
According to the Denver Post, between 3,000 and 5,000 participants usually take part in the run, some of them non-students or young people still in high school. The Post reported over $150,000 in student tuition and fee money has been spent to cover the costs of property damage and security related to the event.
The Undie Run began both as a pre-finals stress reliever and as a charitable event, as participants began the dash by shedding their clothes, which were then donated to local charities.
But the university stopped the donations, as students typically wear clothes they wouldn’t mind throwing away anyway. In a 2016 open letter to students, the Campus Safety Team wrote:
Rarely does the clothing “donated” benefit anyone. Last year, almost all of the clothing left behind was wet due to rain and became moldy — it had to be thrown out. In 2014, 7,745 pounds of clothing were left behind from the run and only 1,683 pounds were donated because most clothing wasn’t in any condition to be accepted by charity. About seven tons of clothing in the last two years ended up in the landfill at the expense of our environment.
However, despite years of warnings for students, the run continues unabated every year. The runs are taking place at a time when nervous school administrators are on the highest possible alert for sexual misconduct, and the idea of thousands of young adults running around in their underwear seems to be a significant hazard on campuses with heightened sensitivities.
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As the university noted in 2016, “Many participants risk being negatively impacted by the actions of others,” adding that “Law enforcement will intervene if there is any criminal activity. This includes any incidents of groping or inappropriate touching during, before and after the run.”