More than 500 students gathered in front of UCSB’s Davidson Library last week on what’s likely to be the only night of the quarter when guys are wearing less than girls.
At around midnight, a hoard of brave UCSBers dashed through Davidson Library and around campus and Isla Vista in their boxers, briefs, bras, and panties for the ninth ever UCSB Undie Run. The quarterly event lands on the Wednesday night during finals week and students strip, pile up their unwanted clothes, and run two miles around campus in nothing more — and sometimes less — than their undergarments.
“I’m doing charity work for running around in my underwear,” said Erik Hartsuyker, who’s organized the event for the past four quarters. Hatsuyker completed the run while carrying a 45-pound speaker blaring techno and dub step.
Eighteen large bags full of clothing collected from the event were donated to the Goodwill thrift store. In past quarters, Hartsuyker has given as much as 1,700 pounds of clothing to Alpha Thrift and the Casa Esperanza Homeless Center.
With 8 a.m. finals looming for most of the crowd, many were willing to sacrifice study time for the party-at-all-costs attitude UCSB revelers are famous for.
“What am I going to remember at 50?” said freshman Austin White, weighing out the odds with his hands. “Anthropology final or Undie Run? Undie Run.”
Whether it was the body heat, shots of whiskey, or a combination of the two, no one seemed to snicker about last night’s nippy weather, which dropped as low as 46 degrees. And while most saw it as a good way to give to charity, others used the event for the sake of showing off their junk.
“It’s an awesome event where we can get naked without being on a list somewhere,” said anthropology major Mandy Gonzales. “It’s the perfect example of freedom.”
Freshman film major Ryan Zwirner and his friends decided to show their holiday spirit by wearing Santa Claus hats and matching Jockey underwear. Instead of donating his own clothes, however, Zwirner decided to donate a $300 pair of pants that belong to his roommate who was out of town.
“It’s fun, it’s charitable, it’s promiscuous,” Zwirner said. “What’s not to like?”
Others just needed a break from studying.
“Personally, it’s a stress release,” said freshman communications major Kelly Smith. “It’s a pretty sneaky way to donate clothes.”
The Undie Run began at UCLA in 2001, when a student, Erik Whitehead, walked around campus in his underwear playing a guitar while protesting police restrictions. As attendance increased, UC police were employed during the event to ward off vandalism and dangerous activity. In the summer of 2009, administration canceled all future Undie Run events, citing safety concerns. Since then, the Undie Run has spread to campuses across the nation.
Hartsuyker said that he hasn’t received any complaints from school officials, but he hasn’t exactly asked for permission.
“It’s a lot better than Floatopia where students get drunk and trash the beach,” Hartsuyker said, backing up the run. “At least this goes to a good cause.”
Floatopia originated in 2004, when students partied and floated offshore of Isla Vista beach. In 2009, as many as 12,000 students attended the event, which was so popular, students called for a Floatopia 2 in May. Safety and environmental issues pushed Santa Barbara County officials to cancel the event.
Hartsuyker said that although some smirk and others palm their faces at the sight of hundreds of semi-streaking students participating, the reaction on campus is mostly positive.
“We get a lot of cheers,” Hartsuyker said. “Guys like it a lot, especially when they see a dozen girls running around in matching thongs.”
Mike Matsuda, a 21-year-old English major, who is responsible for closing down the library at the end of the night, didn’t even attempt to stop the stampede of streaking students from entering.
“I’m supposed to kick these guys out,” Matsuda said. “I try to keep things as orderly as possible, but there’s really nothing you can do about a hoard of naked people.”
Students who were burning the midnight oil in the library had no problem with the run and some thought that watching their fellow classmates was also a good getaway from schoolwork.
“I think it’s funny,” said 20-year-old history major Daniel Clearlay. “It’s a nice study break.
Axe fragrance sponsors the event in the spring quarter, when more than 2,500 students attend the run. Hartsuyker is also given $5,000 to donate to a charitable cause of his choice.