Cheers to naked riders

I was raised, where cornfields and churches tied together clusters of farmland.

It was an undisputed fact that public nudity was prohibited nationwide; no one considered otherwise.

Needless to say I was awe-struck when I received an email from SGA warning of the horrors of a ÒNaked Bike Ride.Ó

At first I thought I read it wrong, and then I thought it was a prank. I quickly confirmed that such a thing existed, and that public nudity was legal statewide.

I was determined to attend the event; such a thing was never heard of in Illinois and I was not going to miss it.

Police were present, but the event itself was jolly. Streaks of skin looped around the campus green as crowds chanted.

Occasionally I could smell pot and alcohol-infused breath waft through the air.

Through SGAÕs email and other news outlets, I learned that many negatives also surround the event.

Injuries, accidents and drunkenness are an annual woe.

Sexual assault is a prominent issue too.

In fact, it remains a public debate as to whether or not the event should take place.

Being raised in an environment that treats public nudity as nonexistent, and now attending a parade dedicated to public nudity, allowed me to reflect on that issue.

The Naked Bike Ride is ultimately a good thing.

Expecting participants to be sober and to be on their best behavior is fair. But it is also idealistic.

If public nudity were legal where I grew up, people would handle it differently.

The people of Vermont actually carry themselves well.

The attitude and the atmosphere of the event are inspiring.

The love of life, the freedom of self and that quirky UVM vibe all on display, as Catamounts celebrate a semester well ended.

Photographing or videotaping the event is highly scrutinizedÑwhich would never happen in the MidwestÑas everyone recognizes that theyÕre all in this together.

Injuries do occur, intoxications happen, and sexual assaults are reported.

While the latter is very problematic, such downsides are outweighed.

Until the event turns into a source of nonstop disasters and serious dangers, any problems should be dealt with individually.

While SGA says there are a lot of Òmore positive waysÓ to celebrate the end of the semester, there are a lot of more negative ways too.

Quite frankly, attending or participating in the Naked Bike Ride ranks among the most positive outlets for college students to celebrate.

The University shouldnÕt be so quick to discount such a unique and valuable celebration.

While academics and credentials are vital to choosing the right college, it was that UVM ÔweirdÕ which drew me. And I suspect thatÕs what drove others here as well.