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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: UNC's streaking hypocrisy laid bare

Bradley Saacks is the University Editor. He is a junior journalism major from Cary.

Bradley Saacks is the University Editor. He is a junior journalism major from Cary.

Rita Balaban cemented her place in UNC folklore Thursday afternoon when she unmasked two of the three streakers who ran through her Economics 101 lecture. Frankly, it was awesome.

In years to come, I have no doubt this story will be exaggerated as the truth of what happened becomes hazier and hazier.

As The Daily Tar Heel reported, one of the streakers was cited by the Department of Public Safety for indecent exposure.

This student might have to register as a sex offender because of the incident. While I do not condone what he did, it does seem unfair that he is the only one who gets in trouble for going on a jog au naturel.

Every semester, on the eve of finals, dozens of students don their birthday suits and run through Davis Library — a seemingly harmless UNC tradition that draws a large crowd of students, staff and, yes, even Department of Public Safety officers to the library. There, they gather to watch and laugh at the shivering exhibitionists as they complete their lengthy tour of the stacks.

But none of these streakers seem to encounter any repercussions for his or her actions. The University needs to be consistent with how it applies its policies and punishes those who break them.

I have never had an issue with campus police turning the other way when the annual streak-a-thon comes around every December, but if they are going to cite a student for running through Carroll, then they must dole out the same treatment to finals streakers. It’s likely that last week’s streakers assumed they’d be treated like their Davis Library counterparts. It’s equally unlikely that they would have gone through with it if they’d suspected it would land them on a sex offender registry.

The argument that the streakers in Balaban’s class should have been punished because they were interrupting a lecture simply does not hold water. Just because a rule is broken outside of the classroom — in a library, for instance — does not mean that the rule was not broken. Public nudity does not suddenly become a sex offense when it takes place in a lecture hall, especially when those affected are students in both cases.

In fact, the Davis streakers bring commotion and distractions that would otherwise not be allowed during a peak study time right before finals, the most important and stressful time of the academic year.

While one can debate whether lecture or study time is more important, there is no debating the clear hypocrisy of the University’s policies. Perhaps the University felt it had to cite the student who got caught because of Balaban’s strong reaction. After seeing the finals eve streaking for the past two years, I can say that no one has responded to the finals streakers like Balaban did ?on Thursday.

But it should not require the Davis librarians’ channeling their inner Rita to ensure that the University fairly applies its rules in all situations.

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