Last Wednesday, an Asian-American studies class was interrupted by two men carrying balloons and wearing only party hats. The two naked students stayed long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” to a friend before jetting out of Chemistry 1179 and back into anonymity.
Earlier this year, Mark Juergensmeyer’s Global Studies 1 class was visited by two streakers while his students took his Fall final exam. Juergensmeyer said it was his first exposure to streaking in nine years of teaching at UCSB.
“I assume people were amused, it probably relieved some tension, and they went back to work. I was [also] surprised and amused,” Juergensmeyer said. “It takes a lot of balls to be a streaker, although obviously not for every group and gender .I felt honored that they would choose my class.”
Juergensmeyer said he was not bothered by the interruption.
“If someone wants to strip naked and run through a class,” he said, “more power to ’em.”
The duo behind both the global studies final exam streak and last week’s Asian-American studies incident have been streaking since their freshman year, and have cantered through an average of one final exam per quarter.
They spoke to the Daily Nexus on condition of anonymity and are referred to in this story as Streaker #1 and Streaker #2.
“We do it predominantly during finals because that’s when the classrooms are at full capacity, and tensions are running high,” Streaker #2 said. “Then we break the tension.”
The pair believes that by easing the stress of test takers, they will actually improve the students’ performance. The streakers said they receive dozens of requests throughout the quarter from friends and acquaintances to streak at specific finals.
They added that professors are usually “lightened up” a bit in the aftermath.
“A laughing professor is more likely to be an A-giving professor,” Streaker #1 said.
Unlike typical streakers, this group often “dresses” in costume for their exhibition. Their themes have included cops and robbers, superheroes and cowboys and Indians. They typically perform in groups of two to three and their presentation has become increasingly elaborate.
The global studies students witnessed a mariachi band shake their maracas all the way to the front of Buchanan 1910 and perform a brief dance.
“We use themes because it probably is fulfilling people’s internal fantasies,” Streaker #2 said. “Deep down everybody wants to see a naked cowboy shooting off his pistol.”
“My position is that it is a victimless crime, like spitting on the sidewalk or stealing cable,” Streaker #1 said.
When asked about streaking Capt. Bill Bean, a UCPD officer at UCSB for 28 years, said, “Are we going back to the ’70s?”
UCSB has a rich history of streaking that began in 1974, when Kinko’s hosted its first annual Jim Sweeney Pro-Am Streak. A crowd of about 3,000 gathered at Storke Plaza to witness over 100 people strip down and prance about wildly while being immortalized by the news media.
The police stance on streaking is that it is a crime and they will likely pursue perpetrators in order to apprehend them. However, UCPD Officer Darren Miller said, “I try not to do that.”
The offense of streaking is a misdemeanor, with a bail amount and fines that vary by case, and possible probation. The specific punishment depends on the circumstances.
“I would hope that it wouldn’t be done at a public event, because of the families,” Bean said. “Someone could take offense and charge indecent exposure, which is more serious.”
Bean said the 1970s fad lives on to a much milder degree.
“I haven’t dealt with any streaking cases in years,” he said.
Miller said he has only seen one streaking incident, at an ultimate Frisbee game.
“It’s harmless unless it is inciting a riot,” he said.