Undie Run

Tonight marked UCLA's Winter '09 Undie Run. For those who don't know, here at UCLA, we have a quarterly event that occurs on the Wednesday of Finals Week, where students strip down to their undies, and go for a run. Very literal, I know.

You can hear all the students gathering at the crosswalk near my building for fifteen to twenty minutes before midnight. There is cheering, chanting (I heard some "Fuck $C"s tonight), 8-claps, people making all kinds of noise, etc. It's kind of like when it becomes the new year, and people make all that noise to celebrate. Then, at midnight, they all take off, cheering and yelling, through a tunnel, and on some pre-determined route around campus.

There are always lots of people involved. People enjoy the tradition. Most people, at any rate. But tonight, I had two people complain to me about it, within a few minutes of each other. And it really soured my mood.

I've NEVER done Undie Run, and I don't plan to (except, MAYBE, Spring Quarter of my senior year). I'm not a fan of taking off my clothes and running around with a bunch of drunk, nearly-naked, college students. But I like the event.

I don't get how people can complain about it. I mean, there are some semi-valid points, but even those are shaky at best. What it really boils down to, in my opinion, is a lack of appreciation for tradition. Because I also know that both of the people who complained to me aren't big fans of "traditions" either.

If a bunch of people randomly started running around in their underwear, then yes, that would be dumb, and it would annoy me. But this is an officially recognized, recurring, event. It is people coming together to something as one group. That's solidarity. That's unity. That's pride.

UCLA has been here for a long time. There are a LOT of traditions. And traditions are important, because they offer a stabilizing facet to each year (or quarter, in the case of Undie Run). We have Undie Run, we have Blue & Gold week (and the parade), we have (or, had) All-Hill Halloween, we have Dance Marathon, we have Spring Sing... the list goes on and on. And for every Bruin who graduates, and leaves these traditions behind, there are new Bruins coming in who get to experience these for themselves.

Maybe I feel stronger about tradition because of my martial arts background. I remember watching students test for their black belt. Watching them have to spar 4 or 5 of the instructors in a row, with no breaks. Watching them do challenging board breaks. Watching them do their specialty breaks. I remember watching them at their Black Belt ceremonies, getting their new belts, and joining the rest of the Black Belts. And I remember watching all of this, knowing that when it was my turn, I would experience the same things. It would be unique and special to me, but at the same time, it formed a togetherness with those who had gone through before me, and those who would follow.

I just feel that at a school like this, with so much tradition and so much pride, that you have to accept these events. Maybe you don't like the specific one (again, Undie Run isn't my thing either), but you should still feel a sense of pride knowing that people are carrying on traditions. It really is a beautiful thing.

And when I graduate, I'll do so knowing that on the whole, I was part of something bigger than me. That I was actually a part of this school, this overall community of Bruins.

Go Bruins.


Courtney said...

omg go bruins.

I am glad you appreciate tradition, it is one of the best things about going to a school like UCLA.

I never did undie run either until... well, the end of my second year. But it is one of my favorite UCLA traditions. And I was never drunk. I highly encourage you to give it a chance jerrrrrrrr. It might surprise you how much fun you have. UN-DIE RUN!! UN-DIE RUN!! UN-DIE RUN!!! ;)

Anonymous said...

sorry to spoil your mood, Jeremy (and I bet anyone who knows us both and reads your blog KNEW it was me). you know I respect you and your opinion. I just think that the things we hold dear are very, very different. Which kind of inspires me to write a blog about how I feel about tradition, and how it relates to my life...

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