In America, we value individuality and like to think that everyone is different. It is expected that most youth will be somewhat rebellious sometime around college age. Youthful rebellion is often seen as a healthy and normal groping toward individuality, especially as needed to become distinct from one’s parents.
The rebelliousness may be related to major social issues —peace, or racial justice, as we had in the late 1960s. On the other hand, normal, healthy rebelliousness may be an individual test of the line between foolishness and trouble.
Early teens may try to shock and worry their parents. Tattoos, pierced noses, and brightly colored hair are examples.
By college age, students may be expected to be testing broader social norms. Of particular delight are actions that point out the hypocrisy of older generations.Streaking, or “running naked through a public place”, is a fine example of that kind of testing. Public nudity is widely condemned by officialdom and can be punished.
However, as long as the streaker escapes without being caught, streaking is clearly harmless; one would be sorry to miss seeing a given instance. Streaking is a fad. A fad allows everyone to demonstrate how different he is — in the same way.
Fads wear out. Fads come and go. Streaking became a fad in the fall of 1973, soon making national headlines.
It faded out and then came back in the 80’s and again in the 90’s. On at least one campus (Princeton University, a highly respected school), a form of streaking has become a tradition. Each year at midnight on the night of the first snow,
nude sophomores run around Princeton’s Holder Courtyard. The tradition has taken hold to an extent that it gets favorable treatment in the national press, and official attempts to end the practice get no public support.