Naked ride in danger of being shut down

Without a significant change in crowd behavior, the University of Vermont’s distinctive tradition known as the “naked bike ride” is under threat of being banned from campus, Patrick Brown, Director of Student Life, said. In an effort to curb rowdy behavior and institute a positive student influence, the Naked Bike Ride Task Force seeks to send out over 100 student volunteers for this semester’s bike ride, Bob Just, President of the Inter-Residence Association, said. Annie Stevens, Dean of Students and head of the Task Force, said the tradition of nude bicyclists riding through campus late at night at the end of each semester has been gaining momentum since its conception roughly nine years ago.The Naked Bike Ride Task Force consists of Stevens, Brown, Just, Student Government Association President Jay Taylor, Interim Chief of UVM Police Lianne Tuomey and various other student leaders on campus, Just said.”When it first started, it was anywhere from 10 to 40 students on bikes who would quickly run around campus. You might have that many students cheering them on, and the whole thing would last about twenty minutes, and then it would be over,” Stevens said. She said that every year since its debut, the naked bike ride has attracted larger numbers of participants and bigger crowds. Brown, who is also on the Task Force, says the issue isn’t with the participants, but rather with the behavior of those attending the event as spectators. “As time has moved on, things have gotten rowdier to the point where [members of the crowd are] grabbing people. We’ve had people assaulted; it’s just not a pleasant scene, I guess, having not been there myself,” Brown said. Stevens described the event as having “way too much” drinking, especially in light of the fact that many of the students in attendance are not yet of drinking age. “Last year, [crowd members] went to detox and had to be helped out of the crowd, and if you’re really intoxicated in that type of a crowd, it’s hard to get help,” Stevens said. Stevens said that the Task Force plans to recruit roughly 100-150 students to volunteer for this semester’s naked bike ride.Just said he sees the aspect of student volunteers participating in safety assistance as a positive way for students to take responsibility for the event.”A student-to-student, face-to-face interaction would allow students to see you don’t need to be out of control and crazy for this event. You can be sober and still have a great time, and have fun with your friends, being at this event that’s very unique to UVM,” Just said.Just described the naked bike ride as a “stress release” and a “very liberating event.” Stevens said the budget for the naked bike ride’s safety assistance includes hiring officers from UVM Police Services and Green Mountain Concerts Security, in addition to fencing and bike racks at the event. Stevens said all of these costs total to around $11,500. Just said the position of student volunteer would be compensated with a limited edition t-shirt available only to those who work the event. The recruitment of student volunteers would require a number of additions to the naked bike ride’s budget this semester, enough to cover the cost of printing t-shirts and also providing refreshments such as food and coffee which are to be made available to those volunteering, Stevens said.Stevens said the Task Force is discussing increasing the lighting of the naked bike ride’s route this semester, which would also add to the expenses of the event. Samuel Swasey, a senior at UVM, said that he wouldn’t consider volunteering at the naked bike ride for the compensation of a t-shirt. When told of the concerns the University has regarding the naked bike ride, Swasey said, “everything seems fine.” As far as the crowd’s misbehavior, Swasey said, “Well, yeah, people are idiots and that’s what you gotta deal with in this world.” Christine Lafavour, a first year student at UVM, said she was in a car on campus last semester when the road was blocked off to make way for the naked bike ride.”I think [having student volunteers] would be great. I think it would be a really good way to support the bike riders,” said Lafavour.Lafavour said the campus would lose some of its identity if the naked bike ride were to be banned in the future. “That would be tragic, absolutely. If there was no more naked bike ride, I think UVM would lose a lot of its reputation and its culture, and everything that is UVM,” Lafavour said.