University advocates against Undie Run participation, citing safety concerns

Lauryn Bolz

With the end of the semester approaching, students may be looking to shed their clothes for the annual Undie Run, but the Colorado State University Administration is doing what it can to prevent students from participating.

The CSU Undie Run has traditionally been seen as a way for students to let loose and relax before finals begin, but the damage caused by the event annually and increased reports of sexual assault have prompted the University Administration to take a stronger approach to stop the event.


Despite the common myth that the Undie Run is a University tradition, the event is anonymously organized and is independent of the University Administration and its support, according to an email sent out to students by the Public Safety Team April 29.

“I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there about this thing,” said Jody Donovan, CSU dean of students. “It is not a tradition because CSU does not own this. It is not a student-run kind of thing because we don’t know who runs this. The Facebook administrator is unknown. At one point, a person who was writing (on the Facebook page) said they were not a student and were not even in Fort Collins.”

Though the CSU Administration has never endorsed the event, faculty and staff have volunteered to ensure a level of safety for students and participants, Donovan said.

“There are no University departments that have ever felt like this was okay or supported it,” said Dell Rae Ciaravola, CSU Police Department’s public information officer. “There might be volunteers that show up to make sure that people are safe. It’s not because we want to be there, it’s not because we support it. We are begrudgingly there because student and participant safety is important.”

The anonymity of the event organizers, as well as the high number of participants who are not members of the CSU community, is a significant concern for the University, Donovan said.

“We’ve responded by trying to identify the people who are perpetuating the run on social media and talking with them about the consequences and the risks,” Ciaravola said. “Because it is not an organized event or is approved by the University, it does not follow the University policies.”

What originally started as a flash-mob in the Morgan Library has grown significantly, costing approximately $150,000 in campus repairs and resulting in an increase of sexual assault reportings to the Women and Gender Advocacy Center, according to an email sent out to students from the Public Safety Team April 29.

Though the Administration has focused on providing harm-reduction in the past, the riot-like atmosphere of the 2018 Undie Run has caused them to re-think their safety measures, Donovan said.

“There are no University departments that have ever felt like this was okay or supported it. There might be volunteers that show up to make sure that people are safe. It’s not because we want to be there, it’s not because we support it. We are begrudgingly there because student and participant safety is important.” Dell Rae Ciaravola, Colorado State University Police Department public information officer

“We’ve tried to express repeatedly that there is harm and we’d really appreciate it if the event did not occur,” Ciaravola said. “We’ve tried that for multiple years and I think this year the approach is very different.”

In addition to taking preliminary action by emailing students and parents about the University’s safety concerns, CSU Police will be partnering with neighboring agencies to hold participants accountable for campus violations and criminal offenses, Ciaravola said. Security will also use HD cameras to identify people involved in any form of misconduct.


Donovan also posted on the Undie Run’s Facebook page to address misinformation about CSU’s Free Speech and Peaceful Assembly policy.

“The First Amendment does not require CSU to allow every type of gathering at any location on campus at all times,” Donovan wrote in a post May 2. “The unauthorized gathering of individuals (on) campus, commonly known as the Undie Run, is not sponsored by any group or any specific individual and is not authorized by CSU. Over the years, this gathering has presented safety and security concerns for the University.”

Many students and supporters of the event have questioned the seriousness of the University’s claims of putting a stop to the Undie Run. The administrator of the CSU Undie Run 2019 Facebook page, who declined to give their name, wrote to The Collegian that they are skeptical of whether the administration’s threats to stop the run will change anything.

“They have sent out emails regarding the Undie Run every year,” the Facebook administrator wrote. “I wonder if that will actually incite problems more than fix the ‘problem.’ CSU has a history of riots in the past.”

Though the Facebook administrator said the event has caused student misconduct and sexual assault, they believe the event to be mostly an innocent way for students to de-stress.

“It does suck that there are sometimes students that attend that decide to cause property damage or sexual misconduct,” the Facebook administrator wrote. “This isn’t a planned riot or something of those sorts. It’s an event to have fun and carry on a tradition. School puts so much stress on students that it causes depression and anxiety. What’s better than running in your underwear to release all of that.”

Though there has been noticeable backlash from students and participants both on campus and on the Undie Run’s Facebook page, the campus Administration is adamant about their commitment to student safety and stopping the event, Donovan said.

“I think some of the ideas are that this is a harmless event,” Donovan said. “My perspective is that it may be that for one person, but I also know that there are many people who are harmed by this event. Is it okay that just because you weren’t harmed that they should keep doing that? Rams take care of Rams. (The Undie Run) does not fit the values of this institution.”

Donovan said she hopes that by stopping the Undie Run, the administration will help promote CSU values on campus and in the community.

“If we can do something to stop what happens on our campus, we hope that that can also diminish what happens in our community,” Donovan said. “That’s where this is coming from, is caring about students. It’s not trying to be the fun police, it’s trying to show how much we care about you and how much we don’t want you to get hurt.”

Lauryn Bolz can be reached at or on Twitter @laurynbolz.