Does an institution have the right to define the freedom of self expression of its constituents?
A small group of students at the college are asking their government that very question.
Repeatedly told to put clothes on, the recently chartered Nudist Club has been asked not to hold meetings in public locations on campus. Denied what they call the basic right to adorn themselves with whatever they wish or wish not to, the club’s members have appealed to the student
government for help, asking for construction of a club Garden on campus for the specific use of their protected engagements.
The Nudists formed out of an anthropology class here at school. According to Freddy Smoteson, anthropology student and founder of the group, his Anthropology instructor, who prefers to remain nameless, did a weeklong segment about the role of nudity in human culture.
Feeling inspired, Smoteson and several of his fellow classmates decided those born nude should stay nude. They formed a “group for people who
are enthusiastic and egoless about nudity”.
Currently, members of the group say they are furious about the ‘on hold’ status of their funding request for the the Garden of Nude. After being
asked to cover themselves out of administrative fear of lawsuit for hosting public exposure, Smoteson said club members have decided to protest by attending all their classes fully nude until they are either forcefully removed from campus by Bellevue police or formally recognized as a group of legitimate individuals with ideas of their own.
Some on campus, however, are worried this club abuses first amendment rights to freedom of expression and identity for their own purposes.
“Freedom doesn’t mean you get to decide what is right and wrong for yourself,” said Sally Saltner, president of the Students Against Public Indecency Club.
“These people think they can take laws all literally. But we all know you have to read between the lines.”
But as Bob Dylan might say, the times are changing. Smoteson said he and his club are not anarchists, but rather people who think for themselves and feel demonstrating their opinion should not be oppressed. “Why should they get to define what is and is not appropriate attire anyway?” says Smoteson.
Smoteson’s advisor, Sandra Dew takes this business very seriously.
“Being naked is healthy,” she said. “Your skin can breathe, and you help the environment becauseyou don’t waste as much energy in clothing manufacturing.”
Talks are back in motion with the school government and Smoteson and Dew are prepared to submit a plan that will minimize distraction and avoid attracting perverts to the club.
Smoteson has two plans for hollographic Garden walls, which to appease opposers, would have only one window: a one-way police interrogation style mirror.
“This way people on the outside can stare back at their own ignorance, while we nudists will be indoors watching their puzzled
expressions,” said Smoteson, “but if they feel inclined to join us, we will welcome them with open arms.”
He said his other option is to face the mirror inwards so people on the outside can see how calm and composed his fellow nudists are without being distracted by people staring in.
However this idea-war saga unfolds, it might be an understatement to say that amidst the battle, Smoteson is a courageous man, fighting for what he believes in, no matter what the attire.