The University of Miami is a place where one can speak their mind. One is allowed to say or believe in anything without fear. There is no pressure to behave a certain way or to do certain things. This is good. But there is a place on campus where there should not be so much freedom: the Wellness Center’s men’s locker rooms, otherwise known as Old Naked Man Land. (I’ve never experienced the women’s locker rooms, but I can only assume that the state of affairs over there is the same.) Yes, I know Tom Brokaw says they’re “the greatest generation,” but they’re also the most naked.
I’m not saying there should be a “no naked” policy. After all, people need to shower and change clothes after using the gym. We just need a “less naked” policy. The current policy we have is “all naked, all the time.” Every time I walk in there, I literally see hundreds of years worth of nudity. I think Schindler’s List was filmed there. Not all of it, of course, just the naked scenes.
Interestingly, there are rarely any naked young people, despite the majority of the gym’s members being younger than 40 years old. There are several hypotheses being thrown around by nudity scholars to explain this. The elderly are forgetful; maybe they forgot their clothes. The elderly have poor vision; maybe they can’t see what they look like naked. The “pull my finger” theory claims that older men just like to make younger men feel uncomfortable. Personally, I believe a lifetime of experiences – which these men certainly have – allow them to overcome petty self-consciousness and act in a way they deem most convenient. I respect that. But please, overcome self-consciousness somewhere else.
I am a reasonable human being. I know prohibiting nudity in a single-sex locker room defeats the purpose of having one. But perhaps there should be two locker rooms, one for the pro-naked and another for the rest of us. Maybe we can limit how often a gym member can be naked. For instance, on the first of the month every member receives two naked permission slips. Upon arrival to the Wellness Center, each member is asked, “Will you be naked at any point during your visit today?” If so, they turn in one slip. Another option is employing timekeepers to make sure that no one in the locker room is without clothes for more than 20 seconds at a time; socks are not taken into account. Twenty seconds is more than enough time to scamper to or from the shower, or to change clothing. Unfortunately, finding people to do this would be difficult. Not to mention that the people who would want to fill this position should probably never be allowed around other people. Only through open dialogue can we arrive at a compromise.
I know this petition – this cry for help – will probably be ignored. It will likely have minimal effects. But we need to crawl before we can walk, folks. If I reach one person, if I can get one old man to say, “Hey, today I’m gonna keep my boxer-briefs on,” I will consider it a success.
Anthony Vega is a sophomore majoring in finance and English. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.