by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Pity the president, any president, of Tufts University. Based in Medford, Massachusetts, just a few miles from Harvard and M.I.T., Tufts is engaged in an ongoing struggle to get out of their shadows and breathe free, a distinguished institution of undergraduate education and research, justifying the Really Big Bucks they charge dazed parents to educate their “not quite Ivy quality” children.
But it just ain’t happenin’.
Whatever good things, whatever great things are going on there, today people worldwide want to know only one thing about Tufts: what’s the Naked Quad Run and why has it been cancelled?
My research reveals all.
No one seems the know the exact year the Naked Quad Run commenced but authorities agree that it’s been going on since the 1970s. It started, as many undergraduate events do, on a dare. You can see sophomore Herbie egging on freshman Bobby in, say, 1970. “Come on, Bobby boy. I dare you.” “Gee, Herbie, I don’t know. I’m a good boy and what if my mother ever found out?”
“Just as I thought Bobby boy. You’re a weenie.”
And to prove that he wasn’t… Bobby downed a quick one, doffed his clothes and became the first Naked Quad runner, cold (it was December after all), blue, a champion. Herbie, irked, spent the rest of his life pointing out that it was Really His Idea.
Bobby, who went on to being president of a Really Big Bank and a trustee of the university, got all the credit. It made for a great story every once in a while in the Tufts alumni bulletin. And it was no surprise when Bobby, age 65, recreated his original Naked Quad Run, to whoops of joy from hundreds of naked undergrads; they had to admit Bobby was an inspiration to all and, all unclad, gathered to cheer on their hero, the man who started it all.
Yep, the story had to go something like that. Anyway…
Over the years, the Naked Quad Run became a firmly rooted Tufts tradition. The boys, sheepish, milled aimlessly about, blue and cold (it was December, remember). Of course there was alcohol (there always is at most every collegiate event) and of course some of those boys were underage and over indulged… but boys will be boys…
And so the run went on, gathering adherents and notoriety as it went. Ok, it wasn’t exactly the Pulitzer or Nobel prize… but it did generate a bucket of PR and good vibrations for Tufts; when you’re firmly planted at #3, you’ve got to take what you can get.
Cherchez la femme.
Some scholars, with a notably feminist perspective, have a decidedly different view on the subject; (they would). The Naked Quad Run (and they put on a learned symposium to prove it) was not held to celebrate the joys of “Gaudeamus igitur” in the great classical tradition of “mens sana in corpore sano”. Rather, and one learned lady was quite adamant about this, rather it was designed for two purposes: to make newly arrived Tufts undergraduate women uncomfortable while at the same time showing off their hot bods, the better to get dates. A poll taken at the symposium registered deep disgust and disapprobation with this male only Naked Quad Run…
… and so supported by vehement feminists, women undergrads were permitted to doff their clothes, too, along with their male undergrad colleagues.
Thus, the ecstatic men of Tufts achieved , with the blessing of the Founding Mothers, a goal of young men everywhere and in all places: official permission to check out naked chicks.
Score another one for Tufts!
What a place!
And all officially sanctioned!
Predictably applications to Tufts soared. It was no doubt the enticing curriculum….
So things might have gone on forever… but all was not roses in this collegiate Eden.
There was more alcohol.
There were (I blush to tell) gropings… not just of young men to young women, but young women to young men; young men to young men… and young women to… but you get the point.
Too, the campus police say they were harassed.
What was going on here anyway?
In time-honored American tradition, the thing had morphed from a youthful, uncomplicated celebration of the end of examinations into an Event, where undergrads from other colleges came to participate (if they were cute so much the better) and where Japanese tourists arrived with their guide and video cams.
The university started to keep — and release — the findings of mayhem and dissipation. December, 2010 figures were the worst yet; 12 students were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning.
Tufts University president Lawrence Bacow (no doubt opposed by the admissions department every inch of the way) took action and banned the Naked Quad Run.
Bacow, clearly anguished by his decision, acknowledged (according to an editorial in The Boston Globe (March 16, 2011) that he has “long been uncomfortable with the run, but chose to work with students and public safety staff to ‘manage the run rather than end it’.” Food was available… barriers were erected… the course was sanded, etc.
As a result the crowds got worse, drank more, groped with impunity and acted out. When Medford and Somerville police (always irked by hordes of insouciant undergrad nudists) refused to provide security details, the end had at last arrived.
That’s why they pay those Big Bucks to Bacow, to make the really tough decisions.
There were student protests, of course. This was Something Really Important, and the creme de la creme at Tufts came out to signify their opposition to this edict and the diminution of the quality of life at Tufts. After all, the right to check out the naked bodies of their friends and colleagues was worth fighting for…
On March 14, 2011 dozens of students engaged in a partially nude run around the Res Quad in a peaceful, sober protect against Bacow’s decision. They were not about to go silent into that good night. Text messages, e-mails, Facebook events brought them together, and they vowed, naked, to continue the good fight. And perhaps they will.
For now, however, the naked paradise that was Tufts on the nights of the run is closed, no more happily ever afterings in Medford. Thus Tufts sinks back into sober, clothed obscurity, while the student affairs office brainstorms alternatives. One of them, as reported by the Tufts Daily newspaper, is a Winter Carnival. Another, a concert.
Hold it! Kids, the carnival’s already done. At Dartmouth. As for the concert idea… old hat. If I were you, I’d hold out for reviving the Naked Quad Run. It’s got eye-popping appeal, and it IS a bona fide Tufts tradition. They are few and far between.
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About The Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at worldprofit.com and JeffreyLantArticles.com
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