Amherst Magazine

College Row

Valentine’s in-the-buff buffet

Considering the convivial atmosphere in Valentine Dining Hall, it isn’t unusual to see students creatively attired, so no one should have raised an eyebrow when a group of students jogged into Valentine wearing top hats and sunglasses one afternoon in October. As it happened, though, the students were wearing nothing but top hats and sunglasses.

Using a megaphone and flags as they ran through the dining hall, they announced themselves to be the Hamilton College Varsity Streaking Team, making a five-day tour of NESCAC schools. As one might imagine, the group does not appear on the list of official Hamilton College athletic teams. They do, however, have their own Website, where they explain the rationale behind the NESCAC tour: “Well, we were rejected from Middlebury, Williams, Bowdoin and Wesleyan. Now we cavort in the verdant quadrangles we have been denied.”  They say that their aim is to “make the Northeast United States a safer and more accepting place for humanity” and to “enlighten and enliven unsuspecting spectators.”

Despite the streakers’ intentions, it was not immediately clear that Amherst students were notably enlightened.  “It was mostly guys, some girls, and they were shouting some Website [address],” said Lisa Pistorio ’07. “No one knew what was happening. It was pretty funny.” The enlivening goal, too, was hard to judge. “This happens every year, although it mostly happens outside,” said Scott Shippey, the evening service leader at Valentine. “We haven’t had inside streakers in more than four years. It’s been a while.”

The college as a whole seemed to reflect that grin-and-bear-it attitude, taking no action against the Hamilton students. Other schools, however, were less tolerant and perhaps less wise. At both Connecticut College and Wellesley College, campus police, apparently feeling that walking nudists would be less offensive than sprinting ones, apprehended the streakers and escorted them off campus.

Despite the apparent frivolity of the sport, there may, after all, be larger intellectual questions involved. Taking an existential perspective, one of the streakers, senior Matthew Himmel, explained why the team chooses crowded venues like Valentine: “After all, if no one saw you, did you, in fact, streak?”  

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