The glory days of streaking in the 1970s

Apr 18, 2013

Every college has its traditions.

Some of them become popular nationally. That's what happened in March of 1974 on college campuses around the country.

What were college students doing? Streaking.

If you were in college or remember the spring of 1974, you'll remember that naked explosion on campus. 

The streaking phenomenon at first was not widespread nor was it well known. The first news reports of these events had to define streaking.  The earliest events happened on Florida's campus.

In February and in early March, news networks began reporting the story. It began to catch the attention of the New York Times and that's when streaking was in full swing.

Jim Tobin, a writer and historian, described the buildup of the campus phenomenon at the University of Michigan.

"The wildfire effect that happened in the first week of March was the week that Michigan students were on their spring break, so no one was in Ann Arbor, but all of the students were hearing about it and dying to get back in Ann Arbor to take part," said Tobin. "That Monday after spring break, there were announcements that there would be a couple of events that would take place."

Tobin describes that past streaks were more of a solo thing and that Michigan students wanted to introduce the idea of mass streaks.

By the Tuesday after Spring Break, and after announcements in the Michigan Daily, groups gathered  at lunch and in the evening to streak. The groups had about 70 students Tobin explains, "The real crowd was the 1,000 of students who came to watch the streakers," he said.

With previous streaks being smaller and more spontaneous, Ann Arbor became home to the first mass streak.

Listen to the full interview above.