by Chance Kawar
Over the past couple months, there has been a controversial, passionate, and at times emotional debate about whether or not Pitzer should allow nudity at certain places on campus. Last week, this debate culminated in a resolution brought to the floor of the Student Senate that aimed to change the student handbook to make nudity permissible in certain areas, namely specified sun decks on dorms.
I voted against much of that resolution, as did a majority of the other student senators. I feel I owe the student body an explanation for this vote, as many people felt very passionately about this issue, for good reason. Here are the 5 reasons why I voted against allowing nudity:
1) Nudity is not a right. It’s not a civil rights issue, a human rights issue, and certainly not a legal rights issue.
As my colleague Braden Holstege PZ ‘14 put it, “There is no widely recognized document (such as the Declaration of Independence or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) that commands people must be allowed to be nude.”
Some people have tried to frame nudity as a fundamental right that we as students are entitled to, but this is simply not the case. Let’s stop pretending that it is.
2) Nudity would make the college a less professional environment. The reality is that Pitzer doesn’t exist in a vacuum. In the outside world, people are expected to wear clothes in their daily lives—when you go to work, or go shopping at the grocery store, or even go for a walk with your dog; our society expects and demands that you to wear clothes.
I feel it is very reasonable to hold students to this same standard when they go to class or hang out with friends on the Mounds. After all, we should be preparing students for life after college, and this is a basic part of life in the world we live in.
3) It will make many people less comfortable about their body image. Many have claimed that allowing nudity will increase body positivity, but I think it is more likely to have the opposite effect. If a person isn’t comfortable with their own body image, they would probably feel awkward and embarrassed if they had to be around people who were nude. Even worse, they might feel pressured by friends or peers to participate in exposing themselves, something they might find to be very difficult and undesirable.
4) It would be culturally inconsiderate. Whether we want to acknowledge this or not, nudity is considered offensive in certain cultures, religions, and societies. Pitzer values its diversity in this regard, and all people on Pitzer’s campus should be able to feel safe and comfortable. That includes not just students, but also staff and faculty who might be not feel at ease with students being naked around campus. As members of the Pitzer community, we all deserve to be comfortable on campus.
5) Nudity would fundamentally change Pitzer’s brand. Pitzer prides itself on being known as the college that values student autonomy, social justice, and environmental sustainability. If we were to allow nudity, we would quickly become known as “the college that allows nudity.” Prospective students would walk away from their tours associating Pitzer with “all the nude people walking around” rather than all of the wonderful things our college has to offer.
I’m as much in favor of body-positivity and questioning conventional social norms as the next Pitzer student. I feel strongly, however, that there are considerations which we must take into account before making any dramatic policy changes. As has become clear throughout discussions around the topic, nudity is a very sensitive topic for many people, and we should be respectful and considerate of all opinions and make a wise, well-informed decision about the issue.