Brule Run results in arrests

Cody Boyer

Two Northern Michigan University students were arrested late Monday night during the annual Brule Run, raising questions from students and staff about the event’s future.

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At midnight on Monday, Nov. 11, sophomores Peter Gibson and Austin Leder were arrested for obstructing police and drunk and disorderly conduct during this year’s traditional Brule Run, according to authorities. Public Safety officials said the arrests followed disruptiveness from spectators and participants of the event following reports of changes to the event.

Jeff Korpi, assistant director of Housing, said negative actions last year during the run led to this year’s rule change.

“We spoke to some of the house leaders and then we addressed the house, explaining that some of the behavior that was being exhibited by a small number of students was really inappropriate,” Korpi said. “We needed some assurance that, if they are going to do this, the current behavior needed to change and the behavior afterward needed to, as well, so people involved can later go to bed and carry on with their night.”

The Brule Run is an event held by Brule House in Gant Hall which involves male residents running nude through the snow and around the Gant and Spalding courtyard. The tradition has been estimated to take place since the 1960s according to several members of Brule House, but the actual date is unknown. At the same time, the all-female Malibu House participates in the “Malibu Flash” inside while the men are running outside, lifting their shirts next to windows.

According to sophomore and Brule participant David Gates, Public Safety told members of the house not to run in the event on Monday morning. Gates said Korpi offered a deal so the event could continue while remaining under control.

“At 11:30 p.m., they told us we weren’t going to be able to run,” Gates said. “We had a meeting with our RA, the RD of Gant and Jeff Korpi, and he said we were allowed to do one lap and one lap only. After that, he said we have to go to our rooms and be done after that.”

According to another Brule resident and runner who wished to remain anonymous, alcohol consumption was a factor in escalating relations with police officials. The student also said some residents of the nearby hall popped screens out of their windows in order to throw objects from their rooms, while other students threw similar objects from the ground.

“Before the cancellations turned into just the change to one lap, things were getting pretty rowdy,” the student said. “We started spreading the word at 11 a.m. and I think that was part of the problem, spreading the idea early. We were drinking too early in the day and getting excited for it.”

Public Safety corporal and police specialist Guy LaPlante said the conduct that transpired was shocking to the police, including students spitting on Public Safety vehicles.

“It was a very fluid evening,” LaPlante said. “It was unfortunate to see the students reacting in such a way to authorities. It used to be a lot tamer and we don’t know where it came from. The event attracts many people, regardless if they live on campus or not. It should be better controlled.”

LaPlante also said the presence of alcohol at such an event took away from the appeal that it had for students over the years.

“Alcohol really destroyed it,” LaPlante said. “The run has been a little more controlled in the past, but when students start spitting on our cars and throwing snowballs at officers, you know that kind of respect is gone. I don’t know where it came from.”

While future discussions will take place regarding the event, Korpi said keeping traditions going are important factors in maintaining student life at NMU.

“We don’t want to cancel what isn’t ours,” Korpi said. “The future plans of the event will be discussed, for sure. Housing and Residence Life of NMU does not put on the Brule Run. It’s a tradition that goes back. Students move into that house knowing about that tradition that takes place and the behavior is driven by the students who live there.”

Gates said the way things developed that night did not reflect the manner the Brule Run has been handled in the past.

“It’s really important to keep tradition alive,” Gates said. “Everything that happened could have been avoided. We upheld our end of the bargain and ran the one lap, but things just escalated. The tradition, though, is a really good hall experience for everyone.”

Public Safety officials said the investigation is currently ongoing pertaining to the charges against Gibson and Leader.