Students tenting this year may be able to avoid previous tenters’ experiences, such as rushing back to a thin sleeping bag for a 10 p.m. curfew.
In a few weeks, Head Line Monitor Zach White will propose Krzyzewskiville policy changes to the Duke Student Government Senate for approval. Many of the potential changes are designed to reduce the rigors of tenting requirements and encourage continued student participation.
“Some people who tent freshman year leave with the feeling that tenting was an unbelievable experience but that they would never want to do it again,” said White, a senior. “That’s not what we want to see this year.”
One of the biggest changes being discussed is a reduction in the number of students required to sleep every night in each K-ville tent from eight to six. Other likely proposals include allowing students to stay out until midnight on Thursday nights and raising the minimum temperature needed for line monitors to award grace.
“It’s important to strike a balance between a challenging and a unifying K-ville experience,” said sophomore Pete Schork, DSG vice president for athletics and campus services. “Tenting is a very rigorous experience, but we don’t want it to interfere with students’ academics or their quality of life.”
The push for changes this year is in large part due to a perception that it is extremely difficult to get into basketball games, White said. Two years ago, the first tenters arrived in K-ville as early as Dec. 6. This year, the official start date for blue tenting is tentatively set for Jan. 3, immediately following the Wisconsin basketball game.
Now, only about a week after the selection of this year’s line monitors, White is already talking to past tenters and planning visits to student groups in order to get a sense of how Duke students feel about the issue.
Junior Lauren Kottis has tented each of the past two years and said she fully supports the new changes. Last year, trying to coordinate rush for selective living group Ubuntu and tenting at the same time, Kottis said she often found herself strapped for time.
“It doesn’t affect going out that much, but it’s your work that suffers a little bit,” Kottis said. “[The proposed changes] are definitely positive changes.”
Much of the discussion about tenting has centered around issues related to the spread of the H1N1 virus—commonly known as swine flu—and other seasonal flus. Jean Hanson, administrative director of Duke Student Health, noted that K-ville poses unique health challenges for keeping illnesses in check.
“The recommendation is to try to stay six feet away from someone who is infectious, but in K-ville that is pretty much impossible,” Hanson said. “It is a prime location to spread anything.”
Last year, 60 students tenting in K-ville sought help from Student Health, Hanson wrote in an email. She added that she expects the number to be even higher this year.
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“As it is, we don’t give students medical excuses to go back to their dorms,” she said. “When kids are sick in K-ville, let’s not make them stay there.”
White recently created a new Health Team within the Line Monitor Committee. The team will be responsible for working with Student Health and University administrators to keep everyone aware of health concerns as they develop.
Senior Spencer Eldred, DSG vice president for student affairs, has talked with White about setting up health stations with hand sanitizer and first aid kits throughout K-ville. He said he would like to see the focus shift more toward preventative care, with kits filled with condoms, bandages and books with health tips that are handed out earlier in the year. He is also looking into getting a health clinic set up in the Intramural Building where students can receive flu shots.
“As the season progresses, we are going to work with [students living in] K-ville, see what their health-related needs are, and come up with more ideas as needed,” he said.
White said he has high expectations for this season. His vision of K-ville this year includes more entertainment than in past years, and he is already talking about bowling parties, concerts, movies and nights at Shooters II.
“The tenting experience is going to be a lot more exciting than it has been,” he said. “K-ville is going to be a bumping fantastic place.”