A male student ran, arms spread wide, circling in a victory lap at the Student Union.
All in his underwear.
He knocked down all of the carefully set up water cups. He was participating in Chapman University’s undie run. An event where students blow off steam on the hump day of finals week by running around town in their underwear.
“Now I laugh about it, but then I was really irritated,” said Sam Schlernitzauer, a senior theatre studies major and guest relations staff member.
That’s because the water cups were carefully set up for the student runners by the undie run support staff. Just one of the myriad of tasks that group does to make sure undie run comes off as successful.
Schlernitzauer actually enjoyed working in the Union during the night of undie run.
“You get to see people in an atmosphere where they are more cut back, they’re looser, where during finals week everyone is stressed,” Schlernitzauer said.
Undie run is a semester’s end tradition at Chapman University, but most people do not realize there is a slew of staff waiting to assist students after they complete their run. Public Safety, Student Affairs, Housing, Student Engagement and Dean of Students staff are present at the event.
“Mostly it is a matter of anticipating where the problems are going to be and how to respond,” Dean of Students Jerry Price said.
They have water set up for the runners, along with blankets on call for students who might be shivering. In addition, they have resources to deal with more serious situations that might occur such as sexual assaults or people with serious injuries. Argyros Forum created a safe space for students after the run.
While the staff works to make undie run as safe as possible for Chapman students, they stay removed and hidden as to give the students freedom during the unofficial event.
“I noticed a lot of student volunteers and public safety officers, police officers, but they didn’t interfere with my experience,” said Daniel Dabach a junior creative producing major.
Staff used to keep bathrooms open in different places, but due to intoxicated students they switched strategies.
“We were concerned someone would pass out, hit their head, be unconscious and no one find them, so we lock up all the restrooms, except for Argyros Forum, so we can check them,” said Price.
Chapman C.A.R.E.S., a student organization which works to create a rape-free environment for students, is also in Argyros Forum during and after undie run. C.A.R.E.S. works to educate students on safety and the importance of consent.
“We don’t necessarily do anything to promote before undie run because we promote consent year-round,” said C.A.R.E.S. Vice-President Taylor Aronow, a senior integrated education studies major. “We intend for Chapman students use that education for undie run and other events so they always have it in mind.”
When undie run ends at around 1:30 a.m., and the aftermath has finally died down, a debriefing by the Student Concern Intervention Team is held with Dean Price and all the people who worked during Undie Run. This debriefing includes tacos as a small reward for the work staff did during the event. Even at that late hour, the staff still checks up on students.
“We collect names on Wednesday night. It could be students who experienced some type of sexual misconduct, it could be a student that got very intoxicated, it could be a student that fell and looks like they were injured. We just add them to the list and plan appropriate follow-up with them,” Price said.
This has been going on for the past 16 undie runs, and the efforts of the staff appear to be having a positive influence.
“The number of students that go to the hospital is fewer. I think students are taking more precautions,” said Price. “I also think every year we have students come up to us and say thanks for being around. They feel more secure having staff around.”