K-ville is stupid. That’s the most important thing about tenting. Next to the stupidity, everything else is just sweetener. Not that I have anything but love for playing outdoor beer pong while waiting to watch Carolina fans and players and Ol’ Roy suffer. But K-ville is stupid, and that’s why you should do it.
Someone else can tell you why tenting is a hallmark of a unique “Duke culture” (and it is) or why it’s fun (also occasionally true). You could also try to wax poetic about how harrowing it is to walk on a no man’s land of mud in clammy shoes, or turn the wreckage of K-ville after a wind/snow/pongstorm into a metaphor for something else. Like… Duke decadence? Or whatever you’re accusing each other of these days.
Anyway, distinguishing between different kinds of stupid is pretty important in college. I remember being constantly told to do “stupid,” allegedly free-spirited things while I was in school. But most of the time, this message was spread in a way that hinted that I was really listening to code for something else—like why I should drink a certain way, in certain places, with the right kind of people.
Blue Devils are experts at that kind of neatly ordered stupidity, and it takes a million forms among us. Orderly stupidity is, of course, really a form of savvy, and therefore anything but stupid. It’s a way to polish our college selves, so they’ll look nice when we dust them off and misremember them for the rest of our equally ordered lives.
Luckily for you, there is such a thing as a truly poor decision, and K-ville is it. Tenting won’t help your resume, it won’t make anyone want to sleep with you, it won’t make you cooler in any way. Dear heavens, I hope you don’t think it will be good for your GPA. K-ville won’t do much for you, unless you think that staring at the ceiling of a nylon tent for three frigid hours in the middle of a Tuesday will one day help you write a folk album.
Kidding aside, though, K-ville is a bizarrely selfless ritual. Sure, it drives home how great you are for belonging to the Crazie tribe, but the logistical nightmares of K-ville life are all about not letting down the rest of your tent. And you’re there in the first place so you can cheer for a basketball team for exactly one game.
There’s a reason a good friend of mine coined the Game of Thrones-inspired phrase “take the blue” to describe K-ville. It’s hard to justify doing it, so it requires that you nurture a whimsical, just-this-side-of-pointless kind of passion that was rare when I was at Duke.
If there’s one thing those of us fortunate enough to attend a school like Duke have learned how to do, it’s extract ruthlessly discernible “value” from almost everything we do. Saying “K-ville is good” is indeed its own kind of value judgment, but I think we can all agree that no one is getting rich because of K-ville. Except maybe the dumpling truck people and whoever franchises the Bryan Center McDonalds.
There’s a solemn path you can go down with this kind of analysis—it’s all bad because capitalism!—but a privileged Duke existence comes with some of the fixes for its own problems. You have the time and the freedom to do unreasonable things, and that’s the best way to kick holes in all those boxes everyone wants to put you in. And K-ville isn’t actually a huge commitment (though it can feel that way), so it’s not like tenting will prevent you from doing other silly stuff, like stealing broken parking gates. Or were my roommate and I the only ones with a collection of parking gates?
College will probably be the last time you have the chance to do something as gloriously dumb as spending weeks sitting in a tent next to a parking lot, picking your way over a Nasty Natty-can massacre every time you need to pee. So, do K-ville. Stupidity is a terrible thing to waste.
Connor Southard, Trinity ’12, is a former Chronicle columnist. He is a graduate student studying English literature at the University of Cambridge.