A springtime strip

Spring quarter seems to bring out the exhibitionist in students.

By Luke Dumas

RETRACTION, MAY 13, 2009: On May 12, this op-ed made claims that were intended as satirical, but read as discriminatory against female students. The article has been heavily amended to retract these remarks. The Maroon sincerely regrets and apologizes for this editorial oversight.

“I can’t wait till it’s spring,” a girl once told me as we slogged through the slush one frigid morning in January.

“Really,” she insisted, as if I’d objected, “it’s going to be so warm and beautiful. The flowers will bloom, everyone will be outside all the time, they’ll all be happy and smiling. Really, Luke, you have no idea. Springtime in Chicago is like a paradise—it’s amazing.” But, as I’ve come to realize this past quarter, springtime at the University of Chicago is less a season of interminable happiness and outdoor recreation than it is the yearly excuse to dress totally inappropriately.

You're not shocked by this, are you? Because odds are you're taking classes right now with at least a handful of girls who dress too scantily. Now that the weather’s nice, some girls can’t be persuaded to wear a pair of shorts longer than their pinkies.

Not that the girls are the only ones showing more skin around campus. Those thin, transparent, often sweat-stained T-shirts meant to be worn as underwear have, for many U of C men, become a perfectly viable option. Clearly, these guys have no shame about their nipples. But perhaps, rather than complain, I should commend all those who wear a shirt at all. You too might have noticed that every time it’s warmer than 60 degrees, there’s some exhibitionist with a six-pack stripping down to his shorts for no other reason than to be admired by passersby. He camps under a tree on the quads like he’s just another U of C student catching up on his reading.

I suppose the real question is, do these students shed their clothing to more effectively enjoy the weather, or do they use the weather as an excuse to shed their clothing? Judging by the number of thongs that have popped up out of nowhere these past weeks, I’m inclined to think the latter. The sexual frustration of the entire year, it seems, is being vented in the course of a few sunny days; by shedding the excess fabric and all discernible moral inhibitions, these students are showing that they’re not only tolerable to look at, but veritably doable. And in all honesty, I can’t fault them for this any more than I can look away. I know that we all need to feel sexy once in a while.

And yet, it must stop somewhere. In high school, we would roll our eyes when told that the dress code saved us from unnecessary distractions, but I’ve experienced it firsthand! How am I supposed to remain attentive and participate actively in class when someone across the room unknowingly pulls a Tara Reid? I don’t want to look at the nipple, but for some reason I must. In fact, I’m offended and made a little bit queasy by the sight of it, but at that moment it’s more important than my education could ever be. So while preparing for a day in the springtime sun, and selecting the perfect outfit to win over that special someone, ask yourself the difficult question: Do I look like I’m dressed for success, or not really dressed at all? Because when your answer is the wrong one, neither of us wins, and when your answer is the right one…at least I can get my participation points for the day.