In case you weren’t there or haven’t heard by now, the Walk-Up Line for the Duke-UNC men’s basketball game was an absolute nightmare.
The Walk-Up Line for UNC is comprised of students who camp out right outside Krzyzewskiville (not in tents, unlike K-Ville residents) and traditionally party for a few days prior to the game. On gameday, the 300+ Walk-Up Line groups are lined up separately from tent groups and are granted admittance only after all tent groups have entered Cameron. Walk-Up Line groups are admitted until the student section has reached capacity, at which point the doors are closed and no one else can enter. Though typically somewhere between 100 and 200 make it in, no Walk-Up Line group is guaranteed to get into the game.
On Saturday, as the last few tenters made their way towards the metal detectors outside the entrance to Cameron Indoor Stadium, the first 150 Walk-Up Line groups flooded security guards and Line Monitors and caused chaos just outside the entrance, even passing tenters still waiting to enter the stadium. The Duke University Police Department (DUPD) formed a human barricade as the situation continued to escalate into dangerous territory. DUPD informed Head Line Monitors Sara Constand and David Duquette that no students from the Walk-Up Line were going to be admitted to the game. Constand relayed this information to the rest of the Walk-Up Line—those who were still in line by Ambler Stadium, a short distance from Krzyzewskiville—echoing the Police order that everyone needed to leave the area.
That didn’t happen. Instead, hundreds of additional students rushed from Ambler Stadium towards the entrance of Cameron, many of whom drunk and all of whom angry, only exacerbating the pre-existing chaos. After holding off the crowd for as long as possible, a frantic, game-time decision was made that the only way to de-escalate the belligerent Walk-Up Line was to start letting groups in as fast as possible. 180 groups were admitted.
As a Line Monitor myself, I can say that the events leading up to this game were some of the most unpleasant and disturbing hours of my life. Saturday night was particularly tough for the Line Monitors because we genuinely want as many people to get into the game as possible—the magic of the Duke-UNC rivalry shouldn’t be inaccessible to those who want to experience it.
However, one of the Line Monitors, senior Sam Rosso, was threatened with arrest if he allowed any more groups to pass. There wasn’t much we could do. By the time the doors were closed for the final time, every Line Monitor stationed outside was either in tears, or visibly shaken by the sheer frustration of the situation and the verbal abuse—sometimes approaching physical abuse—being showered upon them, as well as upon other hopeful game attendees.
Maybe Saturday was a fluke. If everyone in Walk-Up Line hadn’t been forced to come to College Gameday to get their wristbands at noon, perhaps they wouldn’t have been in K-Ville that early, perhaps they wouldn’t have been drinking for seven straight hours leading up to the game and perhaps they wouldn’t have been collectively drunk enough to form an angry mob at the front of the line. However, the issues with Walk-Up Line far surpass these hypotheticals—the events of Saturday night weren’t the fault of College Gameday; they were the inevitable culmination of a systematic problem.
One of the special things about tenting and K-Ville in general is how it seems to exist outside the strictures of the Duke social scene. In K-Ville, it doesn’t matter what group you’re a part of; everyone sleeps in the same cold and wakes up at the same hours, and everyone is working towards the same goal.
If you’ve ever passed by K-Ville during Walk-Up Line—that is, during the days before the game—you know that it is comprised largely of a single demographic: fraternity members. It’s almost a tradition for some fraternities to rush to the front of the line for Walk-Up Line registration and turn K-Ville into an environment essentially inhospitable to anyone who doesn’t want to be at a frat party, only to, in more than enough unfortunate cases, force their pledges to stay in the mess they’ve made and attend Line checks for them when the party's over.
This loophole—taking advantage of the fact that only one member of a Walk-Up Line group has to be present at all times—completely undermines the spirit of K-Ville, and creates an atmosphere of entitlement that pervades the Line. Some of these people spend no time earning a spot in Cameron, and when it comes time to line up in order, they simply refuse to act decently to anyone under the assumption that they are somehow above the rules and above their fellow Blue Devils who spent weeks of their life in a tent to cheer on the same team.
This is the kind of entitlement that would lead someone to blame the Line Monitors for “not controlling us,” while simultaneously ignoring and insulting the people trying to create any semblance of order. (This goes out to you, fellow Duke student who cursed at me red-faced, and threatened to “beat the s**t out of me” after you were already through the metal detectors: I’m glad the police escorted you off the premises and that you—oh, wait...Yeah, you’re definitely not reading The Chronicle).
This entitlement is the source of the utter disrespect with which people treat K-Ville, leaving behind a mind-numbing amount of trash, beer cans, broken tables and vomit-covered clothes. There is no reason for people to throw full beer cans and glass bottles into a crowd of people. There is no reason for anyone to have to explain to a Duke student that, no, you can’t take a chair out of someone’s tent because “that’s stealing,” and there is no reason for a Duke student to explain that it’s actually okay because, well, “I want it.” I guess we Duke students are supposed to always get what we want, no matter what’s in front of us. Even if it’s other Duke students.
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The worst part about the events preceding this year’s game was, in the words of Constand, that “the students who were acting responsibly were punished for the actions of the rude and inconsiderate.” When DUPD announced that no one from the Walk-Up Line would be able to attend the game and that everyone needed to leave the area, I and the other Line Monitors stationed outside looked into students’ eyes and told them to go home because the doors were closed and they wouldn’t be admitted. Many Walk-Up Line groups unwilling to join the mob at the entrance followed the instructions of the Police and left K-Ville—many of them would have gotten into the game if they had stuck around.
Besides benefitting the belligerent, bull-headed members of the Walk-Up Line, the effects of the angry mob became clear as visibly shaken students entered the stadium. I saw one group in particular swipe their cards at the entrance, walk into the lobby to meet their friends and break down into tears saying, “That was so scary.”
When I was a kid, my parents would bring me to campus, and I would walk by all the tents in K-Ville and be amazed and inspired that all these people were so passionate about basketball, about their school and about each other. I grew up obsessed with Duke basketball and obsessed with the idea of tenting for the UNC game. I watched countless YouTube videos about the Cameron Crazies and replayed classic chill-inducing highlights, learning as much as I could about how to one day join the greatest student section in sports.
And yet, at no point did I ever hear or see anything about the Walk-Up Line.
I now realize that there’s a reason for that: the Walk-Up Line for the UNC game is a mark of shame on the face of this university. Trying to get into a basketball game should never leave people so distraught that they cry. And gracious, passionate students—the true Cameron Crazies—should never be punished for the actions of animals who lose all sense of empathy when they drink. The Walk-Up Line is the opposite of what K-Ville stands for, and if I had known about it when I was a kid, I can’t say for certain that Duke basketball would mean as much to me now; because of that, I can’t say for certain that I would be at this university.
The discussions as to how to fix the problems with Walk-Up Line are approaching—there’s no possible way that the university will allow another incident like the angry mob that formed on Saturday night—and I, as well as the rest of the Line Monitors, encourage you to participate and help us and the administration find the best possible solution for all of us.
But whatever solution we find, one thing is for certain: it’s time to kill the Walk-Up Line.
Jaxson Floberg is a Trinity sophomore. His column runs on alternate Mondays.
Jaxson Floberg is a Trinity sophomore. His column runs on alternate Mondays.