Duke-UNC is the big game. It’s one of the most storied rivalries in all of sports. It should also be one of the few days at Duke where everyone on campus comes together to celebrate our team and our school. Yet, by limiting K-Ville festivities to only tenters, the Duke administration and the line monitor staff have only made the biggest day of the year more exclusive.
The centralized tailgate in K-Ville—one of the most recognizable parts of Duke’s sports culture—was replaced by scattered pockets of students on West Campus quads, in dorms and selective sections, at off-campus houses, and even at Shooters. Combined with the bad weather, it made for a decidedly underwhelming build-up to one of the biggest games of the season. There was none of the hype, sense of community, or overarching school spirit that could be felt in K-Ville last year. Instead, people were isolated and broken up, doing their own thing instead of joining together with the rest of campus to tell Carolina to go to hell. If the Duke administration is serious about building and sustaining a school-wide sense of community on campus, then blocking the vast majority of students from K-Ville on gameday is not the way to go about it.
Not everyone can tent, whether for personal, medical or financial reasons. Not everyone should tent; it is an incredibly taxing process that interferes with sleep and schoolwork. Mathematically, there are simply not enough spots in tents for a huge portion of Duke’s population. In short, thousands of students were excluded from K-Ville, the heart of Duke basketball, on Wednesday. No one deserves to be barred from celebrating the biggest basketball game in the country simply because they did not sleep in a tent for six weeks. Going to the game is not the sole indicator of school spirit, nor should it be. Duke Student Government passed a resolution shortly before the game that outlined these very points, but the administration refused to acknowledge the reality that closing off K-Ville is exclusionary and unnecessary.
Almost any Duke student will tell you they came to Duke because it has the best of both worlds—an outstanding reputation in both academics and athletics. If the Duke administration insists on making participation in Duke sports culture more and more exclusive, then the school-wide fanaticism for Duke basketball will begin to fade. After all, Duke basketball is not a team that just bears the university’s name or one that only the tenters root for. It is Duke’s team, playing for the entire Duke community. It binds us together and plays a big role in what it means to go here. Yet without the opportunity to come together as a school to acknowledge and celebrate that, those ideals are going to grow further and further from reality.
The main motivation for the policy change, of course, was the chaos that occurred right before tip-off last year: students in walk-up line jostled to get to the front and created an unsafe situation. I fully support the elimination of walk-up line and applaud the line monitors for avoiding a repeat of last year’s unfortunate situation. But the issue is gone now: walk-up line is dead. The tailgate itself was never the issue. Although there were some incidents in K-Ville, no one got hurt and nothing serious happened. Not only that, but those problems are going to arise no matter where people congregate to watch the game. Is it really safer to have those same events happen across Durham at bars, houses, and dorms than to consolidate the Duke population in a controlled location where campus security can monitor them?
I understand where the line monitors are coming from when they support this change. After all, dealing with thousands of Duke students is overwhelming for a group of fellow undergraduates to handle—which is why they shouldn’t have to. The Duke-UNC K-Ville tailgate needs to come back, but it needs to come back with some changes. An increased presence from campus security would do a lot to reduce any repeat of the few issues from last year and would put the responsibility of managing the event in the hands of trained professionals. Making it tenters-only in the time immediately leading up to entry would also help prevent any last-minute jostling or confusion like last year. It is possible to have a more controlled tailgate while still keeping it open to all, and Duke needs to find that balance.
Andrew Elcock is a Trinity sophomore. His column runs on alternate Fridays.