I am a junior and have every intention of running in the Naked Mile next year. It is not only as cool a tradition as exists on any college campus in this country, but it is (I was surprised to find) the Michigan tradition for which the school is best known.
My friends back East don’t know or care about Hash Bash and they’ve never heard of Yost Ice Arena. They do ask me about the Naked Mile, though, and in recent years I have been forced to admit that the event is not all it’s cracked up to be. Over my three years here the Naked Mile has become an increasingly greater hassle for all parties involved. But it shouldn’t be. The whole thing began years ago with pretty innocent intentions.
I read the editorial that ran on this page (No Thank ‘U’, 4/9/02) regarding the University’s anti-Mile propaganda and then read and re-read interim President White’s email that discouraged seniors from participating in the run. My conclusion is that there is plenty of nastiness surrounding the event, to be sure, but students should not let that spoil the fun.
The Naked Mile is really a college student’s last chance to behave like a college student. Without letting the sap ooze from my keyboard, it’s a sort of last hurrah before adulthood takes complete hold of us. It’s old-fashioned college debauchery at its finest and the University would do well to loosen its tie and direct its energy toward discouraging those not affiliated with the school from participating. Don’t arrest students for indecent exposure; arrest the pervs with the video cameras and bullwhips.
At five in the morning, any morning, you can turn on your television and find about a half dozen infomercials for the “Girls Gone Wild” video and DVD. Why anyone would get the DVD I do not know. The people who buy that crap are the same lonely miscreants who are out on the Diag with bullwhips and they need to get a life. There’s a way to protect students by keeping those types off the streets of Ann Arbor next week – B. Joe and the boys need to spend their time and energy figuring out how.
The hypocrisy of the University’s regulation, besides letting the law come down on the wrong people, is that if they were really concerned with girls getting “groped” they would do away once and for all with the Greek system. I suppose the Greek problem exists everywhere, while the Naked Mile draws negative attention to the school via both local and national media. The University seems to be willing to look the other way on “groping” as long as its behind the closed doors of fraternity houses and not on State Street.
Between the Naked Mile and Hash Bash (which is taken a bit too seriously by parties on both sides), the University and the city seem prepared to squeeze every morsel of fun out of the tasty treats of the University. The administration ought to realize that part of the appeal of the University for undergrads (especially out of state undergrads) are these traditions and the spirit that accompanies them.
Without events like Hash Bash and the Mile, the University becomes just another midwestern state school with some quality graduate programs and loses part of its defining character.
If they want to make it safe, make it safe for the naked 22 year olds who want to cap a pretty grueling four years with a symbolic romp through their former campus. DPS and the AAPD should be arresting the right people next week to remove any element of danger from what was once a harmless tradition and hopefully this year or sometime in the future, that element of innocent fun will return to the Naked Mile and the University.
David Horn can be reached at email@example.com.