Have you looked up at the Chapel recently and noticed an unusual pink hue? You’re not alone. For the past three weeks, the iconic landmark has taken on a new color—but not for the reason you might think.
Some students assumed the Chapel’s color stood for different things. Sophomore Afreen Ashraf wrote in a message to The Chronicle that since the Chapel had been pink all month, she “thought Duke was promoting Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”
Others, like sophomore Effie Mehbod, thought the pink Chapel was just a “fun effort to shine different lights on it.”
However, according to Vanessa Roth, manager of communications and support services for Duke Facilities Management, this color was anything but purposeful.
“Recent network issues affected our ability to control some of the lights,” she wrote in an email to The Chronicle. This led to “some of [the] lights being out,” Roth wrote, resulting in the Chapel’s pink-ish glow.
Duke’s efforts to fix the network error ended Monday when the Chapel’s traditional yellow tint graced the skyline once again. Ashraf noted that she was “quite surprised” to see the change in color since October—Breast Cancer Awareness Month—wasn’t over yet.
Traditionally, custom Chapel lighting colors for commemorative or decorative purposes are handled through the Duke Office of Public Affairs and Government Relations, but Roth wrote that such requests are infrequent.
The ability to accommodate custom colors became possible last year due to an overhaul of the Chapel’s lighting equipment. The new LED lighting system installed in 2019 is more energy-efficient than the previous system and—barring any network issues—allows for the Chapel to be lit up in a plethora of colors.
Duke Chapel is currently open only to Duke students who can access the building between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with appointments bookable here.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.