‘Spooky 15th Underwear Run’ brings confidence, community to Northeastern campus


Harriet Rovniak

A classic Northeastern tradition, the underwear run, returned in a non-official spooky run Oct. 31.

Cathy Ching, news correspondent

On Halloween night, nearly 100 Northeastern students stripped down to their underwear and ran from Speare Hall to Centennial Common for the unofficial 15th Underwear Run. 

Since organizers canceled the Underwear Run in 2020 and 2021, Northeastern students Max Daniels and Cathleen Zhang co-organized the “Spooky 15th Underwear Run” through a Facebook event to carry on the tradition.

Although it is a run, Daniels and Zhang see this event as an opportunity for students to have fun and feel confident in their bodies, rather than an athletic event. 

“Everyone gets outside of their comfort zone one way or another during their time in college and [this] experience just helps you be more comfortable,” said Daniels, a fourth-year combined computer science and mathematics major.

Zhang, a fourth-year cybersecurity major, said that over her years in college, she gained confidence in herself. Participating in the underwear runs in her first two years of college — and a third time on Halloween night — Zhang learned how to ignore what people think.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know any of these people,” Zhang said.

Zhang understands not everyone is comfortable being seen in their underwear in public, but she believes the strongest factor that pushes students into participating is that everyone else does it. This was true for Aaron Gunther, a second-year business administration and economics double major who participated in the underwear run for the first time this Halloween.

“That was one of the concerns that I had — to come off as weird, or creepy, or feel self conscious — but everyone was doing it together, and [they were] there for the energy and the run [rather] than the underwear part,” Gunther said.

Gunther was not alone. In his first year of college, Daniels recalled not wanting to participate in the run, but after seeing other people were comfortable in their underwear it encouraged him to join.

“The night of [the run], I was in my dorm room studying for discrete and my friend [was] like ‘Max, you’re coming with me. Strip.’ It sounds chaotic but I’m really glad I gave it a chance and took the opportunity to get outside my comfort zone,” Daniels said. “As soon as I saw everyone else on my floor in their underwear ready to go have fun, it changed my mind.”

Like Gunther, Zain Memon, a second-year bioengineering major, also participated in the run for the first time this semester. After running about half a mile, Memon felt that the underwear run created a safe and positive environment for the Northeastern students.

“Everyone’s encouraging each other the whole time,” Memon said.

Aside from the screaming runners and blaring music, Gunther felt the presence of all his peers beside him created an “electric” energy.

“At Northeastern, we sometimes struggle for a sense of community as students, and so the run definitely brings everyone together. The run was definitely a chance for the Northeastern community to come together and build a culture as a Northeastern population,” Gunther said. “I definitely felt more connected to the Northeastern students today.”

The underwear run in past years has featured thousands of Northeastern students running through a longer route in Boston. Since this is a tradition on many college campuses, Zhang did not think the underwear run at Northeastern was any different from the runs at other colleges. Nevertheless, Zhang said she did not think the underwear needed to be unique for her to enjoy it.

“I know it’s very cheesy, but I want to embrace the cheesiness,” Zhang said.

On the other hand, Daniels said the underwear run at Northeastern is one of a kind.

“Northeastern’s special because it’s in the middle of the city and that means you have to have a lot more confidence in yourself and you have to be more willing to get out of your comfort zone to run through a city in your underwear,” Daniels said. “It’s one of the most responsible ways to party in college.”

After learning how to be more confident in herself, Zhang aimed for participants in the underwear run to learn how to be confident and body positive as well.

“I’m going to be uncomfortable one way or another, so I might as well be uncomfortable in a way that I want to be uncomfortable in,” Zhang said.