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Student Conduct launches 'full investigation' into West Campus bench burning following UNC men's basketball game

Cites lack of bonfire permit, danger to onlookers

<p>A picture of a bench being burned after Duke men's basketball's win against UNC in March 2020.</p>

A picture of a bench being burned after Duke men's basketball's win against UNC in March 2020.

The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards is now investigating the bench burning that took place after Duke men’s basketball’s victory against the University of North Carolina Saturday evening, according to a Sunday afternoon email from OSC Senior Associate Dean Jeanna McCullers and Vice Dean of Students Clay Adams.

Students gathered on the quad Saturday night after 8 p.m. to burn a bench, and the fire was put out by Duke University Police Department Chief John Dailey and other officers after 9 p.m. The OSC will follow up with individual students identified as being involved in the burn. 

“Taken without a bonfire permit or assistance from Duke and/or Durham officials, these actions were in violation of local laws and Duke University policy and represent an extraordinary degree of safety risk to the active participants themselves and to other onlookers,” the email reads. “We are grateful that no one was harmed and appreciate the assistance of Durham and Duke police and fire officials in extinguishing the fire.”

In addition to lighting the bench on fire “using accelerants and other debris,” firecrackers were set off.

Students that are found responsible for fire safety violations are “subject to sanctions including suspension and/or dismissal from Duke University as well as referral to local authorities for possible civil or criminal investigation.” Any involved non-students will be referred to local authorities.

“Duke has a well-established partnership with student leaders and local authorities to host bonfires when our basketball teams win their home game against our rivals or when they win a national championship. Last night’s events were not in accordance with that tradition and have put at risk our ability to secure approvals for future permits,” the email read.


Nadia Bey | Digital Strategy Director

Nadia Bey is a Trinity senior and digital strategy director for The Chronicle’s 118th volume. She was previously managing editor for Volume 117.

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