K-ville waste leaves no sustainable leg to stand on

guest column

The morning of February 27, undergraduate students packed up their tents, sleeping bags, and belongings to head back to their dorms. All that was left in K-ville was happy memories of tenting for Coach K’s final Duke-UNC game… and thousands of dollars of waste. 

On February 28, images of the sheer magnitude of post-tenting waste were circulated around the Nicholas School of the Environment. My fellow students expressed frustration, disgust, and shame at our undergraduate colleagues leaving brand new tents, sleeping bags, lanterns and various equipment scattered around K-ville for Duke Facilities to clean up. 

The lack of consideration for others displayed by tenters year after year damages the reputation of our Duke community and fails to live up to our environmental commitments. The only reason this hasn’t been discussed sooner in The Chronicle? Facilities has usually cleared the mess before students arrive on campus the next Monday. Out of sight, out of mind, right? 

Students who tent in the future should be held accountable for their leftover equipment and the extra burden they put onto our hardworking Facilities team to clean up their messes.

However, I would like to recognize the work currently undertaken by Duke organizations to make athletics programs more sustainable. While these programs are incredibly important to promoting a culture of sustainability, bags of compost separated from trash will in no way reduce the impact of the dumpster of equipment currently being transported to the local landfill. 

I am humbly asking Duke undergrads to consider the privilege they have of abandoning equipment that could be collected and donated to our unhoused community or to other members of their own Duke community. We as a university must hold each other accountable for brazen acts of financial privilege and environmental waste. In the face of the climate crisis, we must do better, and K-ville’s tent city is no exception. 

Kville trash.jpg

Michelle Carter is a student in the Nicholas School. 


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