With the University’s reputation for being radical and quirky, many may assume that naked parties are an integral part of campus social life.
It was thus little surprise to many that Wesleyan, alongside Yale, Brown and Columbia, was profiled in a recent New York Times article on the “phenomenon” of naked parties on college campuses. But is this still the reality?
Few freshmen arrive on this campus without having heard from someone—a cousin, a family friend, or as the New York Times article mentioned, a tour guide—of Wesleyan’s naked parties. To the outside world, Wesleyan students seem to throw a lot of naked parties.
But these days, “threw” might be more accurate.
Since last year, when Earth House was warned by the administration against hosting another naked party, large-scale naked parties have all but disappeared from the Wesleyan scene.
This is regarded as good news for the administration, which cites safety concerns as the primary reason for the University’s ban on naked parties. According to David Pesci, director of media relations, a student at Brown University was recently sexually assaulted at a naked party there.
“I think much more highly of Wesleyan’s students than to believe that any of them would go into a naked party with intent to do such a thing, but none of us are mind-readers so, whenever possible, we try to err on the side of safety,” Pesci said.
To some students, the ban on naked parties is not a huge loss. Paul Hiam ’09, who attended Earth House’s naked party last year, found the experience overrated and awkward.
“People are actually hairy and smelly when they take off their clothes,” Hiam said.
The University’s reputation for throwing naked parties only frustrates those in charge of representing the school in the media.
Vice President for Public Affairs Justin Harmon cited a New York Times article written in 2000 that portrayed WestCo as a “naked dorm” and said it played a substantial role in developing the University’s reputation for exhibitionism.
“My concern is that these stories stick in people’s memories,” Harmon said. “Some number of people will think of naked parties first when they think of Wesleyan, rather than its bright students.”
Some members of the community, however, feel that the presence of naked parties on campus is beneficial, rather than detrimental, to the campus’s image.
Although Paul Edwards ’09 has never been to a naked party, he thinks that going to one is a testament to a person’s maturity, tolerance, and self-confidence.
“Everyone is beautiful, and putting yourself in a situation where no one has clothes on says that you believe that, and are confident that others around you do, too,” Edwards said.