Panty Raid

panty raid

A panty raid is a prank in which male students steal the panties (undergarments) of female students by intruding into their living quarters. The term dates to February, 1949.

It was the first college craze after World War II, following the 1930s crazes of goldfish swallowing or seeing how many could fit in a phone booth. By the 1970s, mixed dorms, less inhibited attitudes to intercourse on campus led to fading of panty raids.

The first documented incident occurred on February 25, 1948, at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. Around 260 men entered the women’s building through heating tunnels beneath the school. Once inside, they unlocked the door for the remaining raiders to enter. Although a few panties were taken, the goal was to cause commotion. Police arrived. Although no pranksters were charged, news traveled, making national headlines. Penn State’s first raid involved 2,000 males marching on the women’s dorms on April 8, 1952, cheered on by the women, who opened doors and windows and tossed out lingerie.

At a number of colleges, panty raids functioned as a humorous, ad hoc protest against curfews and entry restrictions that barred male visitors from women’s dormitories. This was particularly the case at colleges that had recently started admitting women in large numbers for the first time after World War II, where the role of female students on campus had not yet been worked out. At some colleges the large, leaderless crowds which gathered around panty raids were co-opted by student politicians into protest and activism against dorm curfews and parietals.

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