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Public Nudity Bill Proposed at Pitzer
« on: April 03, 2014, 06:29:10 am »

Imagine a Pitzer College media studies class in which the students are discussing body image. Here’s the twist: All of the students are naked. If Pitzer Senator Harry Johnson PZ '14 gets his way, this scene could be a reality.

The Pitzer Student Senate introduced a resolution last week that would urge the college's Office of Student Affairs to consider allowing nudity in certain areas of campus, which have not yet been specified. Nudity in public areas on campus including the dining hall is currently prohibited, as stated in the Pitzer Student Handbook, but students in various stages of undress are already commonly sighted around the campus.

“Nudity and body image is kind of a social justice issue, which is kind of a core value at Pitzer,” Johnson said. “Dealing with things like body image and also gender identity can be a valuable tool.”

The resolution does not explicitly state where unclothed students would be welcome. It does suggest that nudity could “foster a stronger academic environment,” however, which Johnson said could eventually mean nude-friendly classes.

Johnson said that the bill would shield tours and younger members of the Claremont community who often participate in programs at the 5Cs from displays of nakedness, as students who want to engage in public nudity would be restricted to certain parts of campus.

Rachel Neuberg SC '17 said that she thought the policy could have a positive impact on body image at Pitzer.

“It’s important because we need to learn that bodies don’t need to be so sexualized all the time," she said. "Nudity can be very natural, and it doesn’t have to be a sexual thing. That’s an important thing for people our age to learn, especially because we’re all so sexualized in the media.”

Meg Fosha PZ '17 agreed with Neuberg.

"If being naked is a way for people to express themselves and feel comfortable in their bodies, then I don't see a problem," she said.

Some students have expressed reservations about the policy, however, and concern over the issue is not limited to Pitzer's students.

“Though the motion seems to be restricted to certain areas, I worry that in time it will become much more present in Pitzer’s campus,” Louis Wallen PO '17 said. “Not every culture that is represented in the 5Cs takes a relaxed approach to this, and I am concerned that, if it is expanded, it will prove to be quite insensitive and may prove to be contrary to Pitzer’s reputation of making people of a wide variety of cultures feel comfortable within the college.”

Fosha expressed concern about Pitzer's reputation if the resolution is passed.

"Pitzer is a great institution, but we are only just recently being recognized for it nationally, and I hope that this will not prevent parents from sending their students here or harm our reputation in any way," she said.

Johnson described students at the 5Cs as “open” and said that the resolution was not intended to make other students feel uncomfortable.

Fosha emphasized that the comfort of others must be taken into account.

"We need to take other people's feelings into consideration before we jump into anything," she said.

Some students said that the policy would not have an impact at Pitzer.

"I'm indifferent to whether this policy gets implemented or not," Kyle Dalrymple PZ '17 wrote in a message to TSL. "I do not see this policy having much of an affect [sic] on the Pitzer community."

Johnson also suggested that 5C student organizations could make use of the nude-friendly areas for events.

“Other things on campus, like the QRC [Queer Resource Center], could do things on Pitzer’s campus,” Johnson said.

However, QRC Director Adriana di Bartolo said that she had not been aware of the Pitzer bill and that the QRC was unlikely to hold naked events.

The resolution would officially prohibit nudity at dining areas on Pitzer’s campus, such as the Grove House and the Pit Stop, for hygiene reasons. McConnell Dining Hall already explicitly requires students to be clothed.

Outside the 5Cs, a handful of American colleges see their fair share of nudity. At the University of California, Santa Cruz, for example, students run naked around the campus during the year's first rainstorm.

The nudity trend is not limited to the West Coast. According to The New York Times, Wesleyan University has a clothing-optional residence hall, although the university officially denounces public nudity and insists that residents wear clothes. Brown University hosts a Nudity Week in which students participate in naked activities such as pansexual interpretive dances and naked open-mic nights.

According to Johnson, any rule change that Pitzer might implement would not be directly modeled on the clothing-optional policy at any other school. Eventually, Johnson hopes that Pitzer, along with the other four colleges, will pass more extensive bills that would allow nudity in most public places on campus.

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