In years past, the last day of the semester ended with scores of Tufts University students running naked around the residential quad on campus, often in chilly, snowy conditions.
The end of this semester was different. The "naked quad run," as it was called—a Tufts University tradition since the 1970s—was banned by the university earlier in the year, and the university administration threatened students with semester-long suspension for participating in the event.
Monday night, students responded by staging the opposite of a naked quad run.
In what they called "the excessively overdressed quad stroll," students wore costumes and absurd outfits as they walked slowly around the quad.
They did this in the middle of a strong police presence from Tufts University and local police. Somerville police had cruisers and officers stationed at the university's perimeter on Packard Avenue, and a handful of university police officers monitored the event on campus.
"We didn't know what to expect for the first year of the ban," said Kevin Maguire, director of public safety at Tufts. "We prepared for the worst and hoped for the best."
"If this catches on, it will be a fine tradition," said Bruce Reitman, dean of student affairs, who, in explaining the reason for banning the naked quad run, said, "I think from our perspective it was the safety … responsible drinking. There were students who were intoxicated."
In past years, some students who participated in the run were hospitalized with dramatically high blood-alcohol levels; others reportedly suffered broken bones and twisted joints. When former president of Tufts University, Lawrence Bacow, announced the end of the tradition in March, he wrote an op-ed in The Tufts Daily saying the run would inevitably end one day, but "[t]he only question is whether a student has to die first."
On Monday night, Patch stayed until almost 11 p.m., and the "excessively overdressed quad stroll" seemed under control. Maguire said the university was keeping a small police presence in the area until about 2 a.m. in case some naked runners decided to make a dash for it in the wee hours of the morning. University spokesperson, Kimberly Thurler, said in an email the evening ended without incident.
Students participating in the quad stroll expressed some feelings of disappointment that the traditional naked quad run had come to an end. They also seemed to understand why the university banned the event.
"I think we lost a jewel," said Alex Metzger, 20, a junior who said he participated in the naked quad run the previous two years. This year he dressed in a suit and strolled the quad holding a walking stick topped with a glass ruby.
He described the quad stroll as "very tame, very relaxed … [in] previous years it was really much more wild, screaming to get rid of all your stress for the semester," he said.
"They shut it down for alcohol reasons," he said. "Too many kids were getting sent to the hospital."
Monica Weber, 19, a sophomore, wearing a blue sequined dress, red shoes and a top hat, and holding a tea cup, said the university was "getting rid of one fun tradition and replacing it with an equally fun new one."
Others had never participated in the naked quad run before. Ian Burnette, 21, a senior, dressed in a striped shirt, a Hawaiian-print vest and a strange hat, said, "This is the only time I felt any compunction to participate in any circuitous route of the quad."
He said he'd "rather be classy than naked."
Emma Holliday, a 21-year-old senior, was a little disappointed the naked quad run wasn't happening, having never participated in that event. "I was abroad last fall, so I couldn't do it then, and then it got cancelled," she said.
"If it had been a smaller punishment"—instead of the whopping semester-long suspension—"they still would've done it," she said.