PORTLAND -- Reed College is investigating the complaint that an annual tradition, which sometimes involves naked students, may cause a hostile learning environment.
As first reported in the Oregonian, the ritual takes place before the first Humanities 110 conference each year, which all freshmen are required to attend.
Freshman are asked to offer libations to the gods--pouring their coffee or other drinks on the ground--in exchange for good luck in the coming year, said Reed College spokesman Kevin Myers. Some juniors and seniors dress as gods during the ritual and others wear nothing.
Myers said the practice has been going on for about a decade.
An unidentified member of the Reed community asked that the school investigate whether the practice violates the right to an open and welcome environment for all people, according to an email that school president John Kroger sent out to students, faculty and staff.
Students could not attend their courses, and faculty and staff could not do their jobs, without passing the nude students, Myers said.
He said the school was working to determine if the ritual violates the Title IX prohibition of sexual discrimination at public institutions.
The year-long Humanities 110 course is taught by two dozen faculty members and is described as a journey toward a deep understanding of the ways in which Western societies constructed themselves.