College streaking fad hit High Point campus 40 years ago
These days at High Point University, the only streaking that takes place might be an athletic team’s winning or losing streak, a track team sprinter streaking toward the finish line, or a young coed streaking her hair.
Forty years ago this month, though — long before HPU began branding itself as the home of “an extraordinary education” — students spent about a week distinguishing themselves by streaking, or running around campus, ahem, extraordinarily naked.
“All I saw were hind ends and tennis shoes,” recalls Sally Landis, who was a High Point College freshman in the spring of 1974, when the collegiate streaking fad that was sweeping the country reached High Point.
Landis, who was visiting the all-male Millis Hall one evening, looked up from a vending machine just in time to see a group of male students high-tailing it down the stairs and out the door in their birthday suits, whooping and hollering as they headed out for a brief jaunt across campus.
“Other times, you might just be walking back to your dorm at night, and somebody would come running right past you naked,” adds Landis, of High Point. “Those were strange times. But you know, it usually happened at night, so it was dark and nobody could really see anything anyway.”
According to articles in The High Point Enterprise, the fad reached High Point College the first weekend of March 1974, but it had been happening on other college campuses around the country for a few weeks. Basically, groups of students were disrobing en masse and sprinting nude across campuses, usually attracting large crowds of spectators.
The goal of the streaks was, um — well, there was no goal really. Streaking was just a silly college prank, in the same vein as goldfish-swallowing, telephone booth-stuffing and panty raids, but it became so popular that newspapers were reporting the latest streaks on an almost daily basis.
Singer Ray Stevens even scored a No. 1 hit with his single, “The Streak.” The novelty song features a reporter covering several news flashes about streaker sightings, during which he interviews a man about what he observed. Each time, the witness describes what he saw, then yells to his wife, “Don’t look, Ethel!” By the end of the song, though, Ethel has joined the streaker.
In High Point, the Enterprise reported on three streaks that first weekend in March. The first one happened around 12:30 Saturday morning, when four male students — fraternity brothers, according to the paper — “streaked nude from Millis Dormitory to the college infirmary, to the gymnasium and back to the dormitory.”
The next night, the school’s “normally placid campus” was livened by the presence of 32 streakers (30 guys and two coeds), who also came from Millis Dorm and ran around campus for five minutes or so as about a hundred onlookers watched in amusement. High Point police officers were called to the scene, the Enterprise reported, but no arrests were made.
The weekend’s final streak, which the Enterprise had announced a starting time for, attracted a crowd of hundreds — many of them “townies” from the community — that created several traffic jams around the campus. As for the streakers that night, the paper reported, “Two or three small groups and later a larger one provided fleeting skin shows for a small portion of the throng.”
Bill Guy, who served as dean of students at High Point College when the streaks took place, remembers the incidents well. “But I was just an observer,” he says with a chuckle, “and you can quote me on that.”
As dean of students, Guy, who still lives in High Point, was responsible for “supervising” the streaking students’ behavior and trying to keep them safe.
“It was one of those things that compounded itself,” Guy says. “As the days went by, it got bigger and bigger and bigger. And then the Enterprise announced when the next streak would start, and the city started getting involved, too.”
Guy recalls that some students — mostly girls, he says — streaked through campus in cars.
“They were not as bold as the guys,” he says. “And the guys would stop the cars and shake them. But I don’t remember seeing many girls, if any, run through campus naked.”
Guy did see a male student riding a bicycle naked, until he ran into the back of a car. He also remembers his wife looking out the window of their bedroom one night — where they had a bird’s-eye view of the campus — and seeing a male student standing in the middle of the street, putting his clothes back on.
According to Guy, the streakers represented all demographics.
“It was everybody, across the board,” he says. “I could not say the Greeks did it or the non-Greeks did it. They all did it, and they seemed to have some fun doing it.”
Landis says the streaking even took place in her dorm, Yadkin Dorm, on the Kappa Delta hall — on the very night that a national representative of the sorority happened to be visiting to evaluate the High Point chapter.
As Landis recalls, the hall phone rang, and girls began yelling for someone to go answer it. Finally, Landis’ big sister in the sorority did just that.
On her skateboard.
And breezed right by the sorority’s national representative.
“She had come out in the hall to see what all the yelling was about,” Landis says, “and was greeted by a tall, skinny, naked blonde riding a skateboard.”
Needless to say, the sorority’s evaluation did not go well.
Meanwhile, streaking made headlines at other nearby schools — and not just at colleges such as Greensboro College and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The Enterprise also reported the sighting of a streaker at East Davidson High School in Thomasville and another one, wearing only a ski mask, at Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem. At Asheboro Junior High School, a student was actually expelled for streaking.
Even the classified ads in the Enterprise had references to streaking. Pauncho’s Villa Restaurant, for example, ran numerous ads aimed at “early morning streakers,” advertising homemade biscuits with streaked fatback.
A Davidson County landowner targeted streakers in an ad for a large tract of land, claiming it was ideal for “weekend farming, a get-away haven or even streaking if you’re so inclined.”
The streaking fad died out fairly quickly, lasting only about a week at High Point College.
“It probably seemed longer to me since I was the dean of students,” Guy says, “and I can assure you I was glad when it was all over.”
From Guy’s perspective, he knew the streaking had to stop when he was on campus one night in anticipation of another pre-announced streak, “and there was a lady there with three children and a 12-pack of beer, waiting for the show,” he says. “That’s when I knew things were getting out of hand.”
The next morning, he sent a memo to all students explaining that while the streaking fad had been fun, well, the end was in sight.
“And they never did it again,” Guy says. “Isn’t that amazing?”
Throughout the week, the college had allowed Guy to deal with the students as he saw fit, and he never considered any form of punishment for their pranks.
“If they have a little fun and then it’s over and nobody gets hurt,” he explains, “what’s the big deal?”
And did the streaking have any kind of negative impact on the participants?
Remember Sally Landis, who says she looked up just in time to catch a glimpse of “hind ends and tennis shoes” heading out of Millis Dorm?
“Well,” Landis adds, “those naked hind ends later became the hind ends of a mayor, physician and mortician.”
So you see, all’s well that, um, ends well.
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