At Harvard, where students gather in the famed Harvard Yard for a "primal scream" and a naked lap during finals week, public nudity is a form of stress relief.
"People in these kinds of institutions experience lots of stress and they try to release it," says Dr. Richard Kadison, Chief of Mental Health Services at Harvard. Put a bunch of diverse students together and turn up the academic heat, and students need a way to release the pressure. "Sexual experimentation is one way."
Baring it all at a naked party can have its consequences, however. Ivy leaguers with Ivy League ambitions don't want public sexual acts or nudity tarnishing their future professional -- or political -- careers.
Vladimir Djuric, a recent Harvard graduate who worked for "H Bomb," a campus sex magazine launched last year, said that many classmates steered away from public nudity.
"A lot of people at Harvard have strong political ambitions," Djuric told ABCNews.com. "If they were photographed naked at a naked party, that would hamper any chance at a bid for political office in the future."
But at larger parties, things can run amok. At Brown, smaller naked parties are often held on an "invite-only" basis in student housing, just like at Yale. But a couple of times each year, the school's Queer Alliance throws a "SexPowerGod" party that is attended by hundreds of people and where nudity is encouraged and sex acts often take place. Last year, a Fox News reporter bought a ticket to the party online; in the footage from the story, individual faces of students were clearly visible.
Many students were outraged, and the party has since taken more discreet measures to ensure people outside of the student body are not admitted.
At Princeton, a long tradition of streaking on campus used to culminate at a yearly "Nude Olympics" in which up to 350 students gathered to play sports in the buff. But faced with reports of public sex and urination and alcohol poisoning by participants, the university banned the event in 1999.
Rumors of public nudity on Ivy League campuses have even touched the first family. Cartoonist Gary Trudeau, who went to Yale with President George W. Bush, wrote his first ever cartoon for the Yale Daily News about allegations that the president's fraternity made incoming members bare their backsides to be branded by a coat hanger.
And the rumor that President Bush's daughter, Barbara, might have attended a naked party during her time at Yale prompted Hustler magazine published Larry Flynt to offer a $1 million reward for any evidence that might exist. So far, he hasn't had any takers.
Other Ivy League groups hold events that overtly lean towards the sexual. At Columbia University, an S&M club called Conversio Virium "attempts to promote and support…safe, sane and consensual BDSM play," according to its Web site. While its stresses that the group meets only for discussion and listening, a report by the New York Daily News last year described one meeting in which a female student volunteered to be flogged with a leather whip and rubber hoses.
As for Yale, attendees maintain that the parties are safe. When Yale's Clark-Barol lost her clothes in a naked party clothes check, she had a "panic attack" until her friends came to the rescue, lending her a few articles of clothing before walking her back to her room.