Widgets Magazine

Columbae’s nude tradition blocked by police, librarians

Columbae residents hoping to participate in the co-op’s long tradition of handing out snacks while naked in Green Library the night before finals week were prevented from doing so on Sunday evening by University police and librarians.

The Stanford Daily News Staff

The Stanford Daily News Staff

According to Bill Larson, spokesperson for the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS), officers were dispatched to Green because of a report of possible streaking. Upon entering the library, the Columbae residents were asked to leave — before making their rounds — by a librarian.

“It’s definitely part of house culture,” emphasized Francisca Gilmore ’13, Columbae’s community manager. “It’s just a way of bringing joy and humor into a time that can be particularly stressful for students on campus.”

In previous quarters, naked Columbae residents have been asked to leave Green – or have been escorted out by librarians – after dispensing their gifts. Gilmore expressed surprise, however, at the police presence.

“I don’t think the University will ever explicitly condone what we do, but we were disappointed that there was that level of reaction for something that we think is a positive contribution to making Stanford a little more diverse, crazy and exciting,” Gilmore said.

In the past, the University has taken a relatively liberal approach to instances of nudity on campus. Columbae and fellow co-ops Synergy and Chi Theta Chi are known for their openness to baring skin, to the extent of hosting various clothing-optional events.

“As a general rule, police officers are taught that nudity in and of itself is not a crime,” wrote Chief of Police Laura Wilson ’91 in an October statement to The Daily.

Gilmore acknowledged that some students may not welcome the Columbae tradition and said that the co-op’s residents attempt to avoid creating disquiet.

“We understand that some people are not comfortable with it — I think we all understand that,” Gilmore said. “We try to minimize discomfort by walking quickly, walking quietly.”

About Ileana Najarro

Ileana Najarro is the Managing Editor of News at The Stanford Daily. She previously worked as a News Desk Editor and Staff Writer.
  • ’10

    what’s the deal stanford? i brushed off the past few things as students complaining that their way of life is being destroyed yadayada as we all did, but this is starting to get ridiculous. they did this in old union my senior year too, and i really appreciated getting a skittle from a naked guy while working on a take-home final. take a chill pill, administration

  • Phil

    I so glad to have SUDPS on top of this important “public safety” issue. *headslap*

  • anon

    Wow, fuck this school.

  • sdprince ’71

    Oh, lighten up, SUDPS! It’s a great tradition; wish it had been in place when I was studying for for finals … to give OR to receive! Of course some will be uncomfortable; they may avert their eyes.

  • Pissed-Off Alum

    Was Michael Keller behind this? He banned the Band’s spring library rally back in 2010, and that was always one of my favorite traditions (I loved the five-minute study break the day before finals started). Now this, too? Stanford’s irreverence amidst all of its academics used to be what separated it from other schools.

  • i need to work on concision

    I agree with you on the basic point, but I disagree with your characterization of “the past few things as students complaining that their way of life is being destroyed yadayada as we all did”. (Apologies in advance for probably sounding like a grump.) Sticking up for Net Appetit, healthcare cleaning professionals at Stanford, Suites’ chefs, etc., is not just students complaining. That stuff matters. Those particular issues might not matter to some people, but we should respect and understand that they matter to other people, and for good reasons.

    One good reason is that I think there is a larger issue here. I shall make three observations from which I believe an important conclusion follows. First, Stanford is a world-renowned institution, and people everywhere around the world want to come here to study and do research, and the government and corporations want to fund research here. Second, certain ways of living and doing things are riskier than others. Third, I think certain parts of the Stanford administration (which is very large, of course) are far removed from day-to-day students’ and researchers’ lives. Consequently, from the perspective of a removed administration, there is only downside (liability, inefficiency, tarnishing of a reputation) to certain types of risky activities, and no upside. The value of a wacky moment in a student’s life, the salary and benefits structure of expendable (contractor) employees, the operation of an awesome but idiosyncratic food truck, the independent operation of a kitchen: these do not matter when viewed from such a perspective; or, if they matter, they matter only in that they cause difficulties.

    This is just a situation-specific way of saying what we already understand: a large, successful institution of any sort tends to become conservative to protect itself. This tendency may be inevitable. But it is a tendency worth fighting: indeed, for the good of the institution itself. What is often forgotten is that if one acts as though one has everything to lose, one ends up having nothing to win.

  • Makes Sense

    I understand why the administration made this move, even if I cannot personally condone it. Imagine that you are a Profro or a visiting professor on campus. Seeing something like that could really paint a bad face on the school. While nudity after dark would not cause this issue, it is in a very public space, and in the middle of the day.

  • readItBeforeMakingUpDetails

    um but it was late at night? when only students that are cramming for finals are there?

  • Alumninum

    There seems to be a pattern of students grumbling but never taking action at Stanford. The proper response to the police turning away 10 naked people is to make them turn away 100 naked people the next night.

  • Heyy

    Ehhh, im not sure id appreciate being bothered by nakey-people while studying…it would definitely be a major distraction

  • Stanford Against Torture

    It beats waterboarding possibly innocent Arabs. (wink wink former Sec. of State)

  • Snoopy

    …then they came for the nudists with chocolate covered raisins and I didn’t speak up — because I was not a nudist with chocolate covered raisins. Then they… will actually they stopped coming at all, because everybody was super f*@king boring and only doing “normal” transgressive acts like binge drinking and having one night stands.

  • Exhibitionists Not Appreciated

    Walking around naked in a place of study (quietly or not) is not minimizing discomfort. That’s like saying, I’m gonna F someone in front of you but quietly, don’t mind me. Relegating your nudity to an audience that is generally open to it (i.e. Synergy or Columbae) is minimizing discomfort. There are some more traditional folks on campus (and some who come from countries or states where nudity is not allowed or else not common). And we get offended or distracted by nudity. We take precautions to try and avoid having it shoved in our faces and sight. Take your liberal, crude, in-your-face, BS where people will NOT be offended. Sure, many people may not be offended but to disregard a minority who would be, is insensitive.

    I came into Stanford super innocent, saw my first naked guy (from afar) at band run and felt like it was super anticlimactic and lame that someone I didn’t even know or care about happened to be that guy. Call me naive and outdated but I was hoping it would be some sort of special moment to see my first naked guy but Stanford has ruined any attempts at that fantasy. And being exposed to the saturation of nudity, sexuality, and openness towards something I consider private (gasp, your privates) irks me. It’s not something you can unsee. The whole “look away” reaction is illogical. A library is a place you go to AVOID ppl that you would find at in a frat party. And btw, I do get distracted by a dikk in my face. I don’t give a flying flip if it’s sexualized or not and I’m not going to pretend I’m a special breed of human that’s not gonna notice. And I’m sure all non-gay guys with a pulse are going to take notice of a naked girl. I just think it’s common courtesy to tread on the side of sensitivity and not flaunt complete nudity to a group of studying people, some of whom would be offended by it and many of whom would be distracted.

  • OSKI