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Trading Jackets for the Nude, Students Ring in Exam Week

It is not unusual to see crowds of students traversing Harvard’s campus on Friday nights, but typically everyone is clothed.

Hordes of students gathered in front of Hollis Hall at midnight on Friday wearing towels, flags, at the occasional bathing suit for Primal Scream, a biannual tradition at the College to ring in finals period. Runners arrived in winter coats and hats, keeping warm before dropping their clothes and running a naked lap around the Yard for the tradition. While last year’s fall Scream was unseasonably warm and drew a large crowd, this year’s “screamers” faced a crisp 25-degree night.

In typical fashion, the Harvard University Band stood in the center of the runners’ loop, playing fast-paced songs to match the pace of the “screamers.” As midnight neared, students chanted and cheered before sprinting past Mass. Hall, the John Harvard statue, and back to Hollis for their clothes.

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“I went way too fast out of the gates,” Roger Jin ’18 said. “Then I got winded and slowed down a bit. I’ve never run this fast in my life.”

While tourists have attend the event in the past to snap pictures of Harvard undergraduates in all their glory, this year’s chillier weather conditions seemed to discourage onlookers.

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“The experience was incredible,” Jacob Howell ’20 said. “It was much more enjoyable than I thought. Not as cold as I thought, either. Nowhere near as awkward as I thought—oh, and I’m also still pretty much naked.”

“Screamers” said the naked lap did its job of relieving stress and readying them for finals. A few groups of students paraded around Harvard Yard one or two more times after the group-run ended.

While the tradition consistently features students in the nude, one one occasion it saw controversy and protest. Two years ago, a Black Lives Matter protest disrupted the tradition, prompting runners to reverse their normal course around the Yard and College administrators to intervene in an attempt to quell the chaotic exchange.

—Staff writer Julia E. DeBenedictis can be reached at julia.debenedictis@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @julia_debene.

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