A great university tradition is one of the strongest qualities a school can have. For example, Virginia Tech has the annual Civilians vs. Cadets Snowball Fight. A fire alarm is pulled, sending civilian students and military officers-in-training out into the quad during the first snowfall of the academic year so that they can duke it out. Universities with high-ranking football teams have their fair share of chants to sing along to the school band such as the Tomahawk Chop or Texas A&M’s “Aggie War Hymn.” These are some of the moments that make the college experience truly unique. While the purpose of college is to become groomed for the future, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have a hell of a lot of fun doing it. So how can UCR establish its own great tradition?

Two words: Undie Run.

On Feb. 21, students gathered around the UCR flagpole by the Arts building at 10 p.m. to participate in and bring back the fabled undie run. Hundreds of students turned out to the event, which displayed levels of school spirit not often seen at just any UCR event. The students, half naked and breathing mist, huddled together chanting, “It’s not that cold,” over and over again as Andy Tang stood on a truck bed. The crowd began to quiet down as he yelled, “Whose side?” students quickly responded with, “R’Side!” The school chant was repeated over and over until the run finally began.

I met with Andy Tang, a first-year business major who coordinated this year’s run. He told me how one of his friends was planning a panty run through Pentland dorms but it ended up falling through so he took over and decided to create his own undie run. Tang wants to turn this into more than just a jog.

“We figured we’re first-years so we can keep this going throughout the years and then eventually get someone to take over when we’re gone,” said Tang. He is motivated to keep this a tradition that can only become bigger as the years progress.

As the crowd took off past the Winter SOULstice concert and towards Aberdeen-Inverness I couldn’t help but think that this means something more for the students. It’s not just a prank. One girl decked out in a pink-polka dot bra said that she is doing this for the experience—“something to tell my kids!”

We ran through the A-I lounge and made our way to the Pentland Hills courtyard where students stood on the sidewalk with bottles and plastic cups of water for the runners. This was the togetherness that UCR aims to provide its students with. People stood from the stairways and balconies with cell phones in hand to record and take pictures of the men in tighty-whities and girls in vibrant panties running by and shouting. This was the chance for students to feel like they belonged to something.

Justin Dehart, a UCR student in grey and black striped boxer briefs told me through chattering teeth before the run started that, “[The undie run] reminds you that you’re a school. It reminds you where you go, UCR.” This idea stuck in my mind during the entire run, even when we were on the final stretch with the Bell Tower in sight and my hamstrings were cramping from the cold.
Students are always saying that there isn’t anything to do at UCR since it’s a commuter school. I was reminded during the run that even if we are a commuter school we can still create traditions that make the college life a truly unique experience. The run ended back at the flagpole but students refused to leave right away. Completely forgotten was the 40 degree weather against their bare skin. The students wanted to stay and bask in what they had just accomplished together.

Stephanie Cummings, a second-year stated, “the undie run brings together groups of individuals, it brings together school spirit and reunites everybody on campus.”

UCR was no longer a commuter school. It was no longer a school where sports are a joke. We were no longer split up by CHASS, CNAS, BCOE or SOBA. Cars drove by honking their horns as the crowd would shout to them. We were UCR students, proud to be half naked in the middle of February at 10 o’clock at night.