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The broken K-ville contract

Dear line monitors,

I hope you're happy.

Not only have you broken my heart-and the hearts of many other malcontents like me-but you also have made Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke roll in their graves.

Saturday night's white tent registration was an embarrassment, and any first-year political science major could tell you why. For Krzyzewskiville is our own little nation, albeit a disgusting, germ-breeding, GPA-killing, Hansbrough-hating one. And as a nation, we entered a social contract with you. Saturday night, you broke that contract, and aside from your initial panic that the system was failing, you don't seem to care.

The rules you established for registering a white tent were clear: At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, potential white tenters were to log on to the K-ville website to find the location at which line monitors would register 40 white tents.

My friends and I scattered all over campus-six cars, eight people, eight locations-waiting with bated breath for the signal to sprint like Gerald or drive like J.J.

But 8:30 came and went and there was no posting to the K-ville Web site. Several minutes passed, and my friend on computer duty called me in a panic. He couldn't access the site. I tried all the tricks up my sleeve to discover where the line monitors were hiding, but to no avail. Those kids are stealthy like Dick Cheney and his super-secret "undisclosed location."

But instead of calling off the whole operation, admitting they had made a mistake and trying it again Sunday, the line monitors sent out Facebook messages and Tweets in a last-ditch attempt to let people know where they were.

Sure, white tenting filled up and then some, but I'm sorry, folks, those weren't the rules we agreed to.

And yes, I understand there is an inherent risk involved in white tenting: You might not get your tent registered. But when my friends and I decided the risk was worth it-that our job searches, grad school applications, exams and theses would obstruct our personal abilities to blue tent-we made that choice under the assumption that the rules would be followed and we would get a fair shake.

As good ol' Rousseau said in "The Social Contract, or Principles of Political Right":

"The Sovereign, having no force other than the legislative power, acts only by means of the laws;

"Every law the people has not ratified in person is null and void-is, in fact, not a law;

"The legislative power belongs to the people, and can belong to it alone."

And Locke would give a big ditto to his French theoretical soulmate, saying:

"There only is political society, where every one of the members hath quitted his natural power, resigned it up into the hands of the community in all cases that exclude him not from appealing for protection to the law established by it... the community comes to be the umpire, by settled standing rules, indifferent, and the same to all parties."

The standing rules for K-ville are sometimes confusing to Dukie newbies, but are nonetheless straightforward and designed to protect our ability to watch some of the best basketball in the nation. Posting to the Web site was what we all agreed upon. If you had wanted to use Facebook or Twitter as a backup, you should have made that explicitly clear before Saturday night. The rules, as they were, were "indifferent, and the same to all parties."

And it's not like computer glitches haven't affected the student body before. Two years ago, Residential Life and Housing Services completely redid Room Pix because the server could not handle the volume of students trying to select rooms online. Did that thrill my friend, who selected a room in Keohane on the computer only to wind up in Edens after the in-person re-do session? No. But she understood that the first way was unfair and accepted the rules as they were.

Ordinarily, I-along with the many students shut out of K-ville-would have no grounds to be upset over not getting into a tent. That happens. It's the law of the land. But I do feel we have the right to be angry that we did not have a fair chance at what the K-ville social contract guaranteed us.

When asked Sunday about the situation, Head Line Monitor Joel Burrill told The Chronicle what he echoed to me Tuesday night: "It was not the ideal situation, but it was a situation we ran into, and we dealt with it. Now that we know about it, we will remedy it in future years."

That's not really a solace to the graduating seniors who didn't get a tenting spot. And that's definitely not an apology for messing up.

As we prepared to scatter around campus Saturday night, I couldn't help but remark about how crazy this whole process is. My friend Josh turned to me and said, "If it weren't crazy, it wouldn't be fun, right?"

There's no denying that.

But when it's not fair, it's not crazy or fun.

It's just wrong.


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