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It’s lit: New initiative brings string lights to Bryan Center plaza

The string lights brighten up the dark BC plaza.
The string lights brighten up the dark BC plaza.

The Bryan Center plaza is home to Homecoming celebrations, organizations tabling, and the daily hustle and bustle of student life at Duke. Now, there’s more light to see it all at night. 

String lights have been hung from the trees and lampposts on the Bryan Center plaza, lighting up the sparsely lit space. The project was led by a team of students from Fix My Campus, based on requests from the group’s Facebook page. 

“We got about three posts within the last few months asking, ‘Hey, could we get lights around campus, it gets pretty dark and depressing sometimes,’” said sophomore Natalia Nunez, a member of Fix My Campus. Since the plaza is one of the busiest spots on campus, the team chose to start there. 

The lights will be on from 5 p.m. to midnight every day until the start of Daylight Saving Time in March, with the exception of breaks in the academic calendar, Nunez said. 

“We don’t want them to be necessarily affiliated with any holiday,” Nunez said. “We would rather have it be its own tradition, separated from that.”

Getting the lights up was an easier process than Nunez expected. The Fix My Campus team collaborated over the course of the semester with Christopher Roby, assistant vice president for student affairs, and Jim Hodges, director of conference and event services. They also worked with sophomore Sophie Dalldorf from Duke Student Government to get the job done. 

The lights met a need that Nunez had thought about herself. 

“I’ve actually felt that, during the winter months, those are the hardest for me while I’m here,” she said. “So, I was like, ‘All right, this is probably something that other people share, not just the few students that posted about it and myself.’”

Currently, the lights are directly connected to the power outlets on the plaza, but with Duke’s push toward carbon neutrality in mind, Nunez said that a plan is already in motion to replace the current lights with solar-powered variants. Senior Harsh Sanghi of the Duke Energy Club is providing the team with additional insight.  

The team’s next goal is to bring lights to Abele Quad on West Campus, specifically the walkway adjacent to the Brodhead Center. Nunez said that this project will face a greater challenge: maintaining the architectural aesthetic of West Campus while adding the improved lighting. 

After Abele, Nunez expressed an interest to move on to fixing the lighting situation on East Campus.

“What’s inspiring me now is just seeing that so many people want this to continue,” she said. “It’s just very exciting.”

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