When streaking became a fad across the country, especially on college campuses in the 70s, Northern fell right into place.
The upcoming edition of Horizons, Northern’s alumni magazine, is all about NMU’s history and there are interesting articles about everything from past fashion trends to campus eateries. I was surprised by a half-page note about streaking and the Brule Run so I decided to look into it.
When the trend first started in 1974, there was an article in The North Wind about a group of streakers who were running on campus roofs: “People streaked the roof of Halverson: they streaked on bicycles, they streaked piggy back, they streaked in groups, they streaked alone, they streaked playing basketball.”
It wasn’t a small fad. Gries Hall organized a “grand streak” in which residents ran to Payne and Magers Halls. And there was “streak-fester” (probably a play off Win-fester which is what the winter homecoming was called) in the Payne-Halverson courtyard that was complete with flood lights and a P.A. system.
There are plenty of national articles that wonder why the trend was so popular, but I think Northern students sum it up pretty well in the NW article from the 70s: “‘Why not? It’s fun. I was drunk. It seemed like a good idea at the time.'”
A more recent incident of streaking is recorded in The North Wind in 1990 when a guy ran across campus in 20 degree weather to support the women’s volleyball team becoming national champions. It sounds like people were pretty surprised as he ran from Hedgcock through the Academic Mall to a car waiting in the circle drive near Jamrich Hall. The newspaper reporter interviewed the associated dean of students at the time, Ed Niemi, who said any discipline for the anonymous runner would probably fall under disorderly conduct in the student code, but mentioned that it used to happen all the time. He said, ‘”The courtyard between Payne and Halverson hall use to abound with them.'”
The 1990 article finishes with a sad bit of observation: “In addition to possible frostbite the streaker probably has some bruises today because he fell twice.”
Current students might be familiar with the Brule Run which seems to be a close relative of the organized streaking events in the 70s. And what was said about those events is still true for the Brule Run. As someone wrote to The North Wind, it’s a great unifier for campus: “I have never seen so many people coming together and having a good time without worrying about possible consequences. It was the first time in my three years here at NMU that I heard a round of real laughter that made you feel good from the inside out.”
Written by Lucy Hough