Naked Miles of times past brought students a slew of warnings – in the form of advertisements, promises to arrest runners and warnings that national media outlets planned to photograph the event – from the University and local police enforcement agencies.
But this year, officials are taking a new preventative approach – ignore it, and it may just go away.
Unlike in previous years, when then-University President Lee Bollinger sent the University community e-mails asking students not to run, students will not receive any form of communication prior to the event from President Mary Sue Coleman, University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said.
In addition, University-sponsored ads which previously ran in The Michigan Daily giving students reasons not to run – including the event’s illegality, the danger of sexual assault and the potential for embarrassment for both runners and the University itself -were not printed this year.
Peterson said the University’s changed approach to the Naked Mile is the result of two years of “very little participation” and conversations with various student groups. The conversations indicated that students understood the dangers and consequences of running, she added.
“Those efforts to educate and warn students were very effective. From several hundred runners a few years ago, we were down to about 50 in 2001 and less than a dozen, all clothed in underwear, in 2002. It’s our view that students have gotten the message and understand the dangers of running,” Peterson said. “We did not believe the same level of public education was necessary this year.”
“We felt the time had come to let the Naked Mile end on its own,” she added.
Officers from both the Department of Public Safety and the Ann Arbor Police Department said they believe the Naked Mile has run its course. Although both departments said they will increase enforcement on campus tonight, they also said they are not expecting any significant problems.
“We feel we are prepared for any type of contingency that will happen,” DPS Lt. Joe Piersante said. “We don’t have any indication that there are going to be problems, but we are prepared for just about anything that could happen.”
AAPD Sgt. Craig Flocken said that while the AAPD will be increasing enforcement, the number of officers seen around the South University Avenue area would not equal the numbers seen during recent years.
“We’re not expecting anything to happen tomorrow night. There is no mass deployment that is going to occur,” Flocken said. “Obviously, the run has declined in the last couple years. … I don’t think they are planning on as many officers as before, but there will be officers out there.”
Flocken said students who do disrobe may be arrested for disorderly conduct and indecent exposure, which is punishable by up to one year in prison and a $500 fine. According to the Michigan Sex Offender Public Registry Act, those who have been convicted of indecent exposure three times must register as a sex offender.
Flocken added that last year, AAPD chose not to cite any students who ran in their underwear or covered themselves in some other fashion.
Ordinarily, the Naked Mile, which traditionally occurs on the last day of classes every winter semester, would start after dark at the Rock, go north on Washtenaw Avenue and west on South University until students reach the Cube near the Michigan Union.
According to DPS estimates, last year’s Naked Mile drew approximately 4,000 viewers and a few dozen runners, the vast majority of whom were partly clothed. Two University students and an Ann Arbor resident were arrested for indecent exposure, while DPS cited 10 others for separate offenses. Officers from the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department and the Northfield Township Police Department assisted DPS and AAPD.
Although temperatures yesterday topped 80 degrees, The Weather Channel is predicting temperatures tonight will only reach half that. By 9 p.m., forecasts predict it will be 41 degrees, with rain and possible snow showers throughout the night. The night’s low is predicted at 30 degrees.