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Clothed in class

Kaitlynn Riely | Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In the past three and a half years, I have not taken any classes that included nudity as a requirement.

This morning, I registered for classes for the last time in my college career and I’m fairly certain that I’ll be keeping my clothes on next semester. I haven’t seen the syllabi, but I’m pretty sure that nudity is not a requirement in classes like “Advanced Fiction Writing” or “American Political Parties.”

My sister, Kelly, has not been so lucky. She’s a sophomore at a college in Pennsylvania, studying nursing.

She walked into one of her nursing classes in August and her professor told her to pick a partner she’d be comfortable with and make sure she wears clothes to class that are easy to take off and put on.

So while I was reading Moby Dick and writing a paper about the Democratic and Republican conventions, Kelly was giving, and receiving, a breast exam from her classmate, as the professor walked around the classroom to make sure everyone was performing them correctly.

Next semester, when I’m reading about political parties and the writings of 20th century American women writers, she’ll be giving her classmate a sponge bath, and then getting a sponge bath from this same classmate. (The professor says they can wear bathing suits for this one, but still. The closest I’ve ever come to performing sponge baths in class is …. no, I’ve never come close.)

In my three and a half years at college, I’ve had some fairly tough assignments. I’ve written long papers, taken difficult tests and given some class presentations.

But the whole time, I was wearing clothes. School has seemed a lot easier and less stressful this semester since I realized I could be in the buff in DeBartolo.

I’m usually chilly enough in those classrooms as it is.

The nearest I’ve come to combining nudity and schoolwork at Notre Dame have been the unfortunate occasions when I was studying for final exams in the library and the bun runners of Alumni Hall ran by.

But I’m using Kelly’s classroom experiences of undress as a motivating agent for the rest of my semester. And as we move into the end of the term and the beginning of the biannual college tradition of competing in complaining about who has it worse, consider thinking about my sister and her naked classmates.

You have two 20-page papers due on the same day? Did you have to write them in a hospital dressing gown?

You have three tests in one week? Do any of the tests involve feeling under your classmate’s clothes?

I’m pretty sure they don’t.

So when you head off to class the next few weeks, tackling your end of the semester work, bundle up. Wear multiple layers. Dress yourselves in a complicated array of clothes that can’t be taken off or put on easily.

And enjoy not seeing your classmates in their birthday suits.