As we reported in our May/June 2009 issue, the “Great UC Panty Raid” occurred on the sweltering evening of May 16, 1956. What began as good-natured lingerie looting soon turned into a melee involving hundreds of male students. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, doors were broken down, beds were overturned, and coeds were “manhandled” in the course of the wild spree. Afterward, reported the Oakland Tribune, “The streets surrounding the area took on the appearance of a bargain basement after a women’s lingerie sale.” The cost in property damage and lost underthings was later estimated at $12,000.
The lurid incident made headlines around the world, and then-Chancellor Clark Kerr later recalled that he approached Walter Haas, Class of 1910 to “ask him whether the answer to a warm night in spring might better be a cold dip in a supervised swimming pool.” Kerr told the story in his memoir of UC, The Gold and the Blue.
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