Here are two things that should never go together, but for some strange reason Brown University is all about it: streaking and donuts. Yes, you read that correctly.

It has come to my attention that an annual trend involving birthday suits and donut holes happens twice a year at the Ivy League school and I have so many questions.

Thankfully, my intern Karla Acosta from New Bedford attends Brown and is ready to dish out the cringy yet liberating details. This is her story:

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"When I was making a list of all the colleges that I could envision spending 4 years at during my undergraduate education, the last thing I thought to consider was school policies on nudity. Since I was in sixth grade, Brown University was my dream. When I received that acceptance letter and my dream became a reality, I didn’t realize that part of my reality could include the possibility of exposure to nudity. Much less from my peers who ran naked through the library, handing out donut holes while I and hundreds of other stressed-out students were trying to study for our finals.

Surprisingly, Brown University—one of the eight Ivy League schools that include Harvard, Princeton, and Yale—has a long history of traditions that prompt students to strip down into their birthday suits. Some of this history includes a 1957 visit from Playboy to naked yoga exercises and nude parties.

The Naked Donut Run, a twice-yearly tradition to which I was forced to bear (pun intended) witness during my first semester in college has existed for decades. The first time it was recorded in the Brown Daily Herald was 25 years ago in 1998.

To sum it up, the Naked Donut Run (NDR) happens twice a year during the reading period at the end of each semester when everyone is studying for finals. At an undisclosed date and time that falls within the reading period, naked runners will run through specific floors of two Brown libraries, the Rockafeller Library (the Rock) and the Sciences Library (Sci-Li), passing out donut holes to students who are either studying for finals or loitering in the libraries and eagerly awaiting the show, or both. I just so happened to fall into that last category.

The organizers of the tradition, otherwise known as the Brown University Naked Society have proclaimed that the Naked Donut Run tradition represents “a mixture of freedom, body positivity and spontaneity for the campus community.” The recruitment process for courageous and confident runners is relatively easy, though secretive. Prospective runners are usually recruited either directly or through word of mouth, and are sworn to secrecy……and nudity. There are usually posters all around campus with a QR code that sends people to a website with information about the event. On the day of, unbeknownst to the majority of students, organizers call runners about an hour before the Naked Donut Run telling them where to meet.

From the preparation to the execution, I can’t imagine that it is easy to organize the NDR. Part of the process includes calling ahead to Dunkin and ordering over 1,000 donut holes (munchkins). I’m sure that the workers at Dunkin probably had to be convinced that it wasn't a prank. Which begs an important question: who the heck is funding that? The answer is probably Brown University given the fact that there is an official nude society.

If you don’t want to be subjected to the bare naked site of your peers running around in their birthday suits, you can avoid it. There are pre-disclosed safe zones in each of the buildings that runners won’t go to, and someone will come onto the floor a few minutes before the runners arrive to warn people of their impending presence, so they have time to get away before the spectacle begins. Interestingly enough, Brown University’s most recent Code of Student Conduct doesn’t have any mention of policies that prohibit or regulate nudity on campus, so it’s perfectly legal.

So, as you can imagine, I was sitting on the sixth floor of the Sci-Li with a few friends anxiously awaiting the rumored arrival of the naked runners which had spread through word of mouth. Listen, I’m all for body positivity and confidence but nothing is worth enduring the agonizing minutes of awkward eye contact I made with several of my naked peers because I refused to look at any other part of their body. When one of the runners offered me a donut hole out of his gloved hand, I awkwardly accepted because I thought the least I could do was get a delicious and sanitary study snack out of the mortifying experience. What perplexed me was how normal they acted, as if they weren’t entirely disrobed in front of more than 75 people. And just like that, they had disappeared as quickly as they had arrived. Gone and on to the next floor. Once the shock subsided, there was nothing left for me to do but get back to writing the final paper for my Digital Media class.

I have to give credit where credit is due and say power to the courageous runners who endured the cold December winter climate as they made their way to and from each of the libraries which are several blocks apart in Providence. The Naked Donut Run is an experience best encountered once and it makes for a great college story."

Additional Reporting by Karla Acosta

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