Earlier this month, a streaker bared it all for Ithaca College Circle Apartment residents to see. When Public Safety officers arrived at the scene, he was gone. It is unclear whether the person was a student, and we certainly do not know his motivations. However, his raw venture uncovers an old Ithaca rumor: A person can rightfully exit his or her home in the nude.
According to the New York State penal code, a person is guilty of exposure if he appears in a public place in such a manner that the private or intimate parts of his body are unclothed or exposed. Consequences can include a sentence of up to 15 days in prison or a fine of up to $250. This does not include going topless. It is as legal for women as it is for men to be publicly shirtless, according to a New York Court of Appeals case from 1992, People v. Santorelli.
Yet, as a private institution, the college can have its own policy on this issue. According to the Student Conduct Code section 126.96.36.199.5 Personal Respect and Safety, public exposure is cause for disciplinary action, and for women, this means being topless as well, Mike Leary, assistant director of judicial affairs, said.
Leary said the majority of cases involving indecent exposure are cases of public urination, of which there have been five since January, Tom Dunn, investigator for the Office of Public Safety, said. He also said there has only been one streaking case so far this semester. Dunn said usually one or two of these cases are reported every year.
In the case of public exposure, a student would be stopped by a college staff member, asked for an identification and told to report to a judicial hearing. Repercussions could range from a written warning to being put on disciplinary probation, which means being in poor judicial standing with the college that semester. Faculty and staff who are found publicly exposed are referred to their supervisors — take a second to imagine that.
Traevena Byrd, associate counsel and director of equal opportunity compliance in the Division of Legal Affairs, said many situations are looked at on a case-by-case basis.
“If someone came up to me and said, ’There is a person on my residence hall floor who all the time doesn’t have clothes on, and it makes me very uncomfortable,’ that would be something that we would look into,” she said.
While there aren’t many streaking cases here, there are many other college’s that do.
Hamilton College has the unofficial Varsity Streaking Team, which went on tour to bare it all at 12 colleges within the New England Small College Athletic Conference in 2008.
In the meantime, if you were thinking of wearing your birthday suit for Halloween, you may want to reconsider. At least now you know!