• College: Streakers a sign of freedom
    By CRISTINA KUMKA STAFF WRITER | May 17,2009
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    Graduate John Yates receiving the last Green Mountain College Class of 2009 diploma proved to be an easy act to follow at this year's commencement.

    A group of about a half dozen streakers made the unassuming audience chuckle and gasp as they whisked their naked bodies across the front the stage after the last Bachelor of arts degree was given Saturday afternoon and President Paul Fonteyn shook the last student's hand.

    The shocking moment lasted no more than 30 seconds as the group of students, some with painted green letters on their backs and faces hidden by masks or bandanas, ran in front of the graduates and then out behind the stage.

    Some members of the college's board of trustees, who had a front-row seat to what communications director Kevin Coburn called a "stealth performance," frowned at the sight.

    Later, two of the streakers were seen clothed, returning into the crowd, as if nothing happened.

    The only sign of their mischief was peeking out of the back of their black dresses — peeling green paint at the base of their necks.

    Coburn, who did not see the streaking, said he did not believe any disciplinary action would be taken by the school nor criminal charges filed.

    Streakers also made an appearance at a March performance of comedic group "The Yes Men," held at the college, according to Coburn.

    At that time, a message was written on their backs about global warming and the group of naked students dashed in for 15 seconds and were gone, he said.

    It wasn't meant to be offensive, and neither was Saturday's showing, Coburn said.

    It's sort of become a new tradition at the school, one that is not encouraged but not "stamped out, either," Coburn said.

    "It happened at last year's commencement," Coburn said, hours after Saturday's streaking.

    "Well, freedom of expression is part of a college experience … what we are really concerned with is teaching the sorts of values spoken about today like environmentally sustainability and that's something our students take very seriously."

    Coburn called the streaking "a side show, a stealth activity."

    cristina.kumka@rutlandherald.com
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