Amnesty International hosts inaugural naked bike ride

Bike riders took off their clothes to take on the issues of women’s rights and body image at an inaugural event hosted by Amnesty International on Oct. 7.

There were 80 registered bike riders who donated six boxes of clothing and about $350 to be given to local women’s shelters.

There was no intervention from the police and only a single squad car was on hand to monitor traffic along the bike route on Gregory Drive.

Event organizer Negin Mashaiee, junior in LAS and former Illini Media employee, said the event was a success.

“The turnout is a lot better than we were hoping for,” Mashaiee said. “It’s really great to see college students that are willing to put aside their insecurities and donate for a good cause.”

Chrissy Ruiz, secretary of Amnesty International, sophomore in ­­­­­AHS­­­­­ and current Illini Media employee, led the proceedings and originally proposed the ride to take place on campus.

“We are raising awareness about women’s health and sexual rights because in other countries they can’t do stuff like this,” Ruiz said. “We want them to be able to express themselves like this.” She said raising awareness about a healthy body image is important to her.

“I want you to feel good in your skin every day,” Ruiz said. “It will really boost your confidence and encourage people that they don’t need to look like the media’s image of perfect.”

Amnesty International was inspired to organize the bike ride after learning about a similar bike ride in Chicago, Mashaiee said.

“We wanted an event where we could donate to a local shelter,” said Ashley Markazi, event organizer and senior in ACES.

In the weeks leading up to the bike ride, faculty from the Henry Administration Building filed a complaint with University police, said University Police Lt. Roy Acree.

Students also expressed disapproval in conversations with coordinators prior to the event.

However, Mashaiee said there wasn’t any backlash from the public at the event.

“We’re just trying to do an event to raise awareness that will get students excited, and if that involves taking some clothes off, we have no problem with that,” Mashaiee said.

While most of the attendees wore some combination of a costume, underwear or body paint, there were several men that completed the bike route fully nude.

Riders began at the Union and rode to the south Quad and back, while being cheered on and high-fived by fellow riders and onlookers as they completed the route.

Any doubts of there being future nude bike rides were eased at the start of the rally when Nik Moy, co-president and senior in LAS, confirmed they will be hosting a bike ride every year.