On Feb. 13, The Chronicle ran a guest piece (“Power monitoring”) criticizing the line monitors’ enforcement of walk-up line policies leading up to the Carolina game, suggesting that their strict enforcement undermined the spirit of the game and the would-be Cameron Crazies. Online commenters responded by accusing the author of “whining” and of being unwilling to accept an unbiased application of the rules. I find this reaction surprising.
The key characteristic of the student section of Cameron is the privilege of free and equal access for all students. Before the line forms, no one student has a stronger claim to a ticket than any other. In this sense, these tickets are held in common by the student body. The problem of how to allocate tickets is solved by giving preference to those who show up first.
The LMs are the police force for this system. This group sees itself as so autonomous that it applied for selective living group status last year. New LMs are selected by the previous LMs themselves, which serves to perpetuate the dominance of characteristics deemed ideal by the established leadership. Though DSG plays a role in approving K-ville rules and appointing the head line monitor, the LMs have developed a code of conformity within their ranks that creates a distance between themselves and other students. This insular and unelected group has almost full control over access to what is in essence our property.
Frustrations with the LMs are common and not limited to just the less devoted walk-up liners. Last week I witnessed first hand how certain students were given favorable treatment based on their relationships with the monitors. What’s worse is that some of what tenters are subjected to would be considered hazing were if carried out by a greek organization or SLG. The lack of consistent and equitable enforcement is not the main problem, however.
The LMs are not held directly accountable in any meaningful way to the students they are there to serve. Why have we outsourced the regulation of our rightful property to such an organization? Regardless of your feelings about how the LMs operate, shouldn’t you demand a say? What if they wore greek letters rather than blue jackets—would you feel differently? I am not at all proposing that we eliminate the LMs, but I do believe that it is time for us to take back a measure of control over the student section. In 1215 the barons of England forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, which obligated him to ask their permission, through Parliament, before he could change the law.
In the same vein, I suggest that the head line monitor be made into an elected position. Candidates would have to explain why they would be best able to regulate access to our seats, and it would enable a campus-wide conversation about the type of K-ville experience we want to have. This would democratize the organization and allow students a greater voice in its operation. Compared to other major elected offices such as DSG president and Young Trustee, the LMs probably have a much more significant impact on many of our day-to-day lives. Local sheriffs are elected. What’s the difference? Why shouldn’t we have a voice?
Lastly, this shouldn’t be at all threatening to the K-ville establishment. In spite of all the criticism, LMs truly are the most devout Cameron Crazies and work very hard to improve the Duke basketball experience for all of us. They deserve our thanks for bringing order out of what would otherwise be total chaos. Consent, however, is key on this campus, and there’s nothing wrong with making the head line monitor ask us for it. Then we can all decide whether or not we get bathroom breaks.
Paul Vanderslice is a Trinity senior.