Students streak through University of Oregon’s Knight Library
By Mark Costigan
Eight protesters ran semi-naked through the Knight Library tonight in a demonstration said to empower University students. The streaking activists yelled, “You are a genius,” as they proceeded from the third floor out the front door, blasting “Renegades of Funk” from a portable stereo. Event organizer Rachael Zisette said she is pleased with the results.
“In order to help people understand how they are, we had to be in the flesh,” Zisette said. “We had to be who we really are. That’s why we painted ourselves and wore our favorite hats and whatnot. It was meant to inspire others to be their own person.”
The group handed out chocolates during the streak that had attached notes saying the same phrase they yelled.
Zisette started the idea six weeks ago with a secret Facebook group. Spawning the original plan as a culmination of her four years at the University, she did not expect the interest that quickly ensued. As the group grew to more than 20 members in just a week, she delegated duties such as legal research, and made sure they had a route planned.
In an effort to avoid trouble from the Department of Public Safety, the group started the naked run from the third-floor bathroom. Witnessing the group’s exit on the third floor, library faculty were not shocked.
“You know, I’ve seen a lot of crazy things in the library,” Knight Library employee Brian Riff said. “People behave strangely here. I’m not too surprised.”
Other students were more startled by the demonstration.
“I saw what I thought were a bunch of people in clothes until they got closer,” University senior Zack Knight said. “I figure if there is anywhere in this great state, why not Eugene? Just the fact that they can streak naked through the library after three or four days of exhaustion in the library shows we can make a difference.”
When the demonstrators passed Leif Larson at his first floor computer, he clapped and whistled in approval. He viewed the streaking as an effort to preserve First Amendment rights.
“I love it, it’s a great idea,” Larson said. “If a corporation can spend money suppressing freedom of speech, people should be able to strip naked. I’m all for it.”
Zisette deliberately planned the event during finals to grab people’s attention while they were the most stressed.
“I was thinking about how we all are our own geniuses, and it really comes out in these finals when everybody is stressed,” Zisette said. “There’s so much anxiety built upon something you’re probably not even that attached to — hence the shock factor in our demonstration.”
She said that throughout her University education, finals week was the time where she felt her individuality the most suppressed.
“We wanted to break that moment with a beautiful one, if only for a minute.” Zisette said. “We wanted to help people understand that they are perfect just the way they are.”
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