An all-student e-mail from Steve Klass and Sarah Bolton begins:

Students streaking through the library during Reading Period has been a tradition for many years. We’d like to call your attention to a couple of significant risks involved with it and ask you to reconsider this activity.

Entire e-mail is below the break. Comments:

1) When did the streaking tradition start? Presumably it was after co-education began in the early 70’s . . .

2) I was surprised at how big a deal it has become:

The streaking in Sawyer Library during last December’s Reading Period put a huge number of people at great risk of bodily injury. Thanks to social media, the building was well beyond fire code capacity by the time the streaking began. The marble steps and connecting walkways on the upper floors were absolutely jammed and impenetrable, blocking all egress. Students leaning over the railings on those connectors were crushed up against the waist-level restraining walls, putting them in danger of breaking through or falling over the railings.

Was it really that bad? Can anyone send us a picture (not of the streakers, obviously, but of the crowding)?

3) Will this plea cause students to change the tradition? Predictions welcome!

So, we ask you to please take the well-being of others to heart and come up with another way to achieve the same fun objectives in a safe and responsible manner.

The obvious replacement would be an outside event, perhaps a circular route around the new green space at the center of campus, or perhaps around the Science Quad. Suggestions from readers?

Entire e-mail below.

Students streaking through the library during Reading Period has been a tradition for many years. We’d like to call your attention to a couple of significant risks involved with it and ask you to reconsider this activity.

The first risk is one that has always existed – legal and disciplinary consequences for the streakers. Many times after the streaking we get complaints from library users about public nudity. Often, those complaints are made directly to the Williamstown Police Department. If streakers are identified and turned in to the police, they can be charged with public indecency and/or lewd and lascivious behavior. If convicted, either charge designates that individual as a registered sex offender. Identified streakers will also face student conduct procedures through the Dean’s Office.

While that risk is to the individuals who engage in the activity, a second risk exposes a great number of people to significant danger. The streaking in Sawyer Library during last December’s Reading Period put a huge number of people at great risk of bodily injury. Thanks to social media, the building was well beyond fire code capacity by the time the streaking began. The marble steps and connecting walkways on the upper floors were absolutely jammed and impenetrable, blocking all egress. Students leaning over the railings on those connectors were crushed up against the waist-level restraining walls, putting them in danger of breaking through or falling over the railings.

That’s an extremely serious hazard, potentially impacting the safety of hundreds of people. Witnesses to the situation in December led us to believe that we were very fortunate that no one suffered serious injuries.

With this in mind, we ask that you reconsider this tradition.

We recognize that something fun and out of the ordinary takes some of the edge off of this particularly pressure-filled time of year. However, the increased use of social media to announce the activity combined with the design of the new building makes this activity so much more dangerous than in the past. So, we ask you to please take the well-being of others to heart and come up with another way to achieve the same fun objectives in a safe and responsible manner.

Thank you for your consideration. We wish you a successful finish to the academic year.

Sarah Bolton, Dean of the College
Steve Klass, VP for Campus Life

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