Don't Streak in Her Course

When three streakers disrupted a class at UNC Chapel Hill last week, the instructor chased them down and unmasked two of them.


October 13, 2014
Photo by Adam Sheinhaus
Rita Balaban holds up the masks of two streakers

Three streakers picked the wrong class to interrupt on Thursday at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The streakers entered a lecture hall for 375 students, naked except for rubber masks on their faces. They started screaming and running around the classroom. To their apparent surprise, the instructor responded by chasing them down, ripping the mask off one of the streakers and chasing another into the hallway, where she ripped off his mask as well. When she returned from the hallway with two masks, students met her with applause.

Rita Balaban, a senior lecturer in economics at Chapel Hill, told ABC News 11 that she had heard about the tradition of masked streakers disrupting classes in the past, so she was mentally prepared when it happened. "To me, it was a no-brainer," she said. "It was like, you're coming right at me. This is too easy. I grab the one guy's mask and just -- pfsh! -- pulled it right off, no problem! The other guy wasn't so easy. He dragged me out into the hall."

She added that her view of the situation was, "You know, you're violating my classroom. This is offensive to me. It's just rude."

One of the streakers, a UNC student, has since been charged with indecent exposure.

Adam Sheinhaus, one of the students in the class, is also a photographer, and he snapped the photograph with this article showing Balaban with two streakers' masks.

Via email, Sheinhaus told Inside Higher Ed that the incident wasn't immediately understood by students. "The initial response was confusion and fear. When three people with masks run into a class, it's not exactly funny for the first few seconds," he said.

"Then once everyone realized what was happening, it turned to laughter. They ran up and down the aisles until Professor Balaban ripped one of their masks off to applause. She chased after a second, returning with his mask as well, to more applause," he said.

Campus opinion seems to be running in Balaban's favor.

The lead entry in the open discussion forum of The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper, says: "Balaban 2016."


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