UNC professor de-masks streakers in her classroom

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UNC economics professor Rita Balaban (Images courtesy: Adam Sheinhaus via WTVD-TV)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A UNC economics professor is receiving praise from students and colleagues alike for de-masking streakers who interrupted her classroom Thursday.

Rita Balaban told WTVD-TV that it happened around noon, about an hour into her ECON 101 lecture.

As she was instructing a class of 375 students inside UNC’s Carroll Hall, three men, stark naked and wearing nothing but rubber masks, came screaming and running through a side door.

“I look for a second. I take pause and I’m like, woah!,” Balaban explained her shock as she watched the streakers sprint up the aisles of the room toward the back.

Once they reached the top of the aisle, two of them turned around came running back toward Balaban.

“To me, it was a no-brainer,” she said. “It was like, you’re coming right at me. This is too easy. I grab the one guys mask and just -pfsh!- pulled it right off, no problem! The other guy wasn’t so easy. He drug me out into the hall.”

Balaban says she pinned back the arms of one streaker as he tried darting out a side door, eventually de-masking him as well.

UNC Dept. of Public Safety spokesperson Randy Young said officers cited one of the streakers, a UNC student, with indecent exposure.

Balaban said while she’s able to laugh about it now, she was pretty shaken up during the commotion.

“Just pure anger,” she described her reaction toward the men exposing themselves to her and her students. “You know, you’re violating my classroom. This is offensive to me. It’s just rude.”

Walking back into her classroom Thursday, a mask in either hand, Balaban said her students erupted in praise.

Balaban said streakers have been known to disrupt her colleague’s classrooms in years past, so she was prepared should it ever happen to her.

“I then always said, I would find out who it was,” she recalled. “If I had a chance, I would take the masks off to embarrass them even more that way.”

She said her colleagues and some UNC administrators have been applauding her as well for her actions. When asked if she would have handled anything differently, she said she wouldn’t change a thing.

“For me personally, I think this deserves some sort of suspension from school,” she said. “You’re disrupting a classroom!”