Some campus rituals fade away. Others are put down with a massive police presence.
The latter is how the University ended the Naked Mile, a two-decade old campus tradition, in 2002.
Traditionally, on the last day of classes, outgoing seniors would strip down and jog naked from Washtenaw Avenue up State Street and across the Diag to Regents Plaza in front of the Fleming Administration Building. The tradition seems to have started innocently enough in the early 1980s, but by the late ’90s it had grown into a media spectacle. In 1999, the Department of Public Safety estimated that some 800 students streaked across campus during the event, while thousands of spectators lined the streets.
But city and University officials were growing uncomfortable with the growing spectacle and decided to crack down. The University formed a special committee to try and reign in the popular event.
DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said the University cracked down on the run after police began receiving a growing number of reports of sexual assault, groping and harassment.
The Ann Arbor police department led the initial effort.
The Ann Arbor Police arrested some students for indecent exposure during the run in 2000, The Michgian Daily reported at the time.
In 2001, the University launched a full-scale campaign targeting the tradition. They printed posters and sent e-mails outlining the potential dangers of the run. DPS also tried to keep runners off University property by extending the construction fencing around the Mason Hall construction site. That same year, AAPD Sgt. Michael Logghe threatened arrests.
“We going to make all the arrests necessary to shut it down,” he told the Daily at the time.
The crackdown worked. In 2001, Brown estimated only a few dozen students ran.
The following years, even fewer students participated. By 2003 the event had been subdued so much that the University and AAPD were able to cut back on police presence at the run.
In 2004 a small cadre a students staged one last attempt to revive the dying traction. They staged a naked run a day before the traditional date to avoid expected police interference, and arranged an elaborate network of safe houses they could flee to in the event of trouble. Their efforts proved futile.